From the Pastor
Over the course of the last 6 weeks we have been looking deeply at the book of Philippians and have encountered Paul’s excitement and inspiration as he taught the church how to fulfill the mission of Jesus. We see from much of Paul’s writing that he believed that one of the most important factors in being able to carry the mission of Christ was a unified message, a unified church, and unified movement of the people. Over the years, this message of unity has been subdued and cries of individualism, consumerism, and separation have plagued the modern church. We now have thousands of different Christian denominations and there are churches all across the country that offer their own skewed flavor of the Gospel with hopes of enticing and pleasing a crowd of people similar to them. I believe that this is a faulty model driven by an allegiance to the world rather than a deep devotion to the ways and will of Jesus our King. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that modernizing the presentation of the one true Gospel can be effective in reaching our neighbors for Christ, but the message and mission of Christ in it’s original and entire presentation must be the central theme of all that we do.
It is without rebuttal that the church in America is dying. There are many reasons for this, but none of them any less important than the division of principles, values, and resources throughout the many congregations and denominations. In John 17:20-21 Jesus prays for the church by saying “20 ‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us,[f] so that the world may believe that you have sent me.’” It is in this prayer that we see Jesus profess the importance of unity in reaching an unbelieving world and it is in this prayer that I believe our congregations have been called to act. At a combined council meeting on May 11th, the three church councils voted overwhelmingly to begin putting together a plan to become one church rather than three separate congregations. Part of this plan would be to combine all of our assets and liabilities with the goal of better utilizing all of God’s provisions to better reach the lost and the broken with the good news of the Gospel. We intend to consult both the United Methodist Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America in developing a plan that allows for us not only continue our Lutheran and Methodists traditions, but also strengthens our long-standing relationships with both denominations.
While there is much to iron out and many ideas to sift through, I want to assure you that your councils and pastors take very seriously the histories, heritages, and connections that each of these congregations have. Many of the people on these committees have given their lives for these congregations, their people, and their buildings. We are entering this process with the best possible intentions of serving the mission of Jesus with everything we have and everything we are, and promise to do so with the utmost desire to give everyone ample opportunity to share their concerns, questions, and ideas along the way. The first opportunity for us to talk together will be at an open forum discussion being held on Sunday June 9th at 6:30 pm in the Grace sanctuary. Please come and hear more, share your thoughts, and be a part of the new thing that God is doing in our midst.
Grace and Peace,