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There’s a lot of rumblings out there about the declining role that the church plays in society. There’s no doubt that the church (or any religious expression) is no longer the center of society. While the majority of American Adults (65%) describe themselves as Christian, only 47% claim to belong to a church. Not only is membership down, so too is attendance and participation. Things were already on a downward trend in 2020 and then the pandemic hit and those regularly attending worship and participating in the life of the church took a nose-dive.

Yea, it’s kind of depressing and discouraging.

And then something happens. Last Sunday was one of those things. What a joy it was to see the Fellowship Hall be transformed into a colorful, joy-filled carnival atmosphere. Our church boards let their creative juices flow over the summer and found ways to present the essence of their various ministries in fun, games and food. From cake walks to squirt guns, guessing jars and flame-pinning, the ministry of our church came to life for all to see and explore. Although all of that is encouraging in and of itself, there’s more.

The people. The people gathered and laughed and conversed and told their stories. We rejoiced in the return of those we haven’t seen for a while. We welcomed some new faces among us. We watched as children led the grown-ups in joy.

The New International Version’s translation of Philippians 2:1-2 expresses:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

I am encouraged by what is transpiring as we continue to move into the future God intends for us. I am encouraged by the way our church leadership is working to be united with Christ to express love and joy and work towards unity in spirit. I am encouraged by these ongoing reminders of hope—that the joy, the celebration, the living into our mission and ministry—is a reminder that we are part of the ongoing expression of God’s love. I pray you are encouraged as well.

Blessings on your week.

Rev. Lynne

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