Every once in a while, when no one else is around, I’ll take a little walk around the church in the spirit of prayer and gratitude for what happens in and through the sacred space. The colors of the stained-glass windows in the sanctuary come alive with the sun and the shadows. I recall the way we used those windows as a backdrop for the music recordings during our COVID shut-down. Knowing that Julie and Jay Fabrega provided the finances for those windows, I rejoice in their generosity and joy in that gift. The stained-glass windows of the Fellowship Hall carry some names of the early members of Christ United Methodist Church. Those windows blessed the worship of our friends of Christ UMC before we joined them and our worship services until the sanctuary could be built. I walk into the choir robe room and see the blue and purple robes hanging in their appointed numbered slots. I imagine the fabric silently carrying the music of the voices that have sung praises, Christmas carols and cantatas over the years. The Sunday school rooms that nurture the faith of the children in our midst echo their laughter and wonder. The youth rooms that hold the fragile egos of teens carry evidence of amazing young people seeking to find their way in the world and in faith. Fellowship Hall carries the sounds of laughter and the essence of meals served over the years.
My wanderings around the building carry a sense of a Holy Conversation as the spirit of each room walks with me. Some of those conversations carry UCC voices. Some are those of Christ United Methodist Church. Some of the voices belong to visitors who have found a safe place along their life’s journey. As I walk through the halls and into the rooms, I’m reminded that all these voices intermingle and speak one message of love and grace. It is indeed a Holy Conversation.
Recently, we have been invited into a different kind of Holy Conversation that involves our friends at Christ United Methodist Church in a very real and very real-time way.
A few weeks ago, Rev. Dawn came to me, with the blessing of their leadership team wondering if we would be interested in exploring the possibility of entering into a deeper relationship with them. What might it look like if our two congregations entered into more shared ministry and perhaps even found a way to merge. Currently, we share the building and some worship services. For the most part, our ministries and everything associated with them (staff, finances, etc.) are separate. What might it look like if we were to consider a deeper sharing, a deeper relationship in all aspects of ministry?
Just asking that question opens up the door to tons of other questions. There’s some wondering and worrying. There’s some possibilities and precautions. Know that NO DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE other than to enter into the conversation.
Our two leadership teams (our Council and their Leadership Team) along with myself and Rev. Dawn will be meeting to engage the conversation next Tuesday evening at 6:30 P.M. This is just the beginning, the very first step of whatever this conversation will become. No significant changes will be made without the involvement of both congregations and input from wider church leadership. Right now, it’s all about the leaders of each congregation sitting down with one another in the spirit of prayer and discernment and exploring some “what ifs.”
We could use your help.
Pray for Rev. Dawn and I as we work with our leadership teams. Pray that we would lead in faith and wisdom.
Pray for our church leaders and that they would know a spirit of openness and discernment. Pray for the ability to speak the truth in love and listen deeply to one another.
If the process moves forward, be involved in it with your own sense of curiosity and openness to what it is that God might be leading us towards. It’s probably that in the future, we will be having some congregational conversations and other opportunities for you to be involved. When we do, show up, participate, listen, and speak.
Speak only from your experience and avoid the pitfalls of “a lot of people are saying or will….,” or “I’ve heard that…..”
Wonder with openness to where the Spirit is leading us. We’ll keep you informed along the way. May the journey be blessed. Rev. Lynne