Hot Off the Presses!
Our principal at Mills sent an email yesterday titled “Stop the Presses!” We were all poised to start phoning our students at home and procedures changed. My article for this month’s church newsletter has been edited, re-edited, and now I am rewriting it entirely! These are uncertain and strange times we find ourselves in, but as people of faith we need to trust in God. I am not going to tell you not to be afraid, because we all are. But I am going to invite us all to open ourselves to the Spirit, to let the Spirit move and live and breathe in us (I actually think there is a hymn with those lyrics). (more…)
Below my musings you will find the minutes from the council meeting with our district superintendent, John Tucker, held last Friday. I would highly recommend you read through them. John also met with several people not on council to get a good sense of how committed we are to our request for a full time pastor. He came away feeling optimistic about our future. The idea is that he will continue to search for a pastor who would spend 20 hours a week maintaining our current worship service and the other 20 hours a week doing a new church plant (they currently do not have such a critter in our conference, but will look beyond the conference). We are declining in numbers and younger folks are just not interested in how we worship on Sunday mornings. Yes, there are anecdotal examples of young people joining worship services like ours, but all the major research being done says trying to convince young people to join us is fruitless.
We have a flurry of work to be done in the next few months, and once the council has had a chance to review the goals Chrys, Jean, and I worked out with our Rural Church consultant, Lynn Egli, we will get copies of those flow charts to you. We will also begin to ask you to join us in some very specific tasks to prepare ourselves to be a lay led congregation until a full time pastor can be found.
The single most repeated command in scripture is “Be not afraid.” So I invite you to let go of fear, open yourself to the Holy Spirit, and pray, pray, pray for God to send us the pastor who fits with us and our community.
For a copy of the Church Council minutes, please contact the church office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
After sleeping and praying on this, I need to share something with you that really would be better face to face, but it has been increasingly hard for folks to make it to weekly worship. The conference appoints pastors on an annual basis, from July 1 to June 30. I thought I could do both this and my job at Mills Elementary and the task has proven to be too much for me. I will not be continuing as your pastor past June 30. I am not going to be leaving the congregation, just stepping down from being your half-time pastor. I will continue to be active in our Rural Church Engagement Initiative and if no one is appointed for the coming year, most months I will do one Sunday preaching and providing communion.
For those who were not at worship the Sunday I announced this, our first project for the Rural Church Initiative (RCI) will be to host a Better Angels Red/Blue Workshop May 23, 2020. If you are not familiar with Better Angels, it is an organization that started right after the last presidential election in South Lebanon, Ohio. By bringing together folks from both sides of the aisle to learn to listen and understand one another better, the organization is hoping to reduce the extreme polarization we are experiencing in America. They take their name from Abraham Lincoln’s speech on the eve of the Civil War where he appealed to “the better angels of our nature.”
Bet you didn’t know that Joy turns 300 this year? That is Isaac Watts hymn Joy to the World turns 300. This beloved Christmas classic is based on Psalm 98 which invites us to sing a new song. This Advent, we will be doing not just a sermon series around Joy to the World, but rearranging worship some so we can sing a new song. I know change is hard. Remember my first sermon here at FUMC? Change is hard, but it happens all around us and it seems like the pace is unprecedented. But I want to invite you to give these changes a chance. (more…)