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Below this is the full text of Pastor John's article
I can't tell you how excited I am for where we are and what we're looking for in the future. This Summer we're going to be seeing many changes outside of the church in preparation for more changes that we'll be making on the inside. We're working on a garden, we've got a playset coming, and more plans still for our "backyard." And that is just the beginning.
While I think some of us knew what we needed on one level, the last year has brought some things into focus. Often, we think of the church as being mostly contained by the building, and then the people are the ones who go out from there into the community. However, with what we're doing now, we have the chance to take the building out into the community in a way that we couldn't before. In turn, that will give us as the people an even bigger opportunity to reach out.
We've started the work of understanding that opportunity by using the prayer below. It's a breakthrough prayer that asks God how we can be the spiritual heart of our community.
Come Holy Spirit, come show us how we can be the spiritual heart of this community, Amen
If you were to think about our community, what would you say is its spiritual heart? The quick answer, and the one that we'd be tempted to give, is to say the church. But, when you stop to think about it, that's not as true a statement as it would have been 50 years ago. Today there are many other options, but one of the things that we have discovered in the last year is the need for a spiritual heart that gives us comfort in times of trouble and helps make our joy greater in times of celebration.
The church is the natural place for that to happen, but are we ready for it to happen? Just recently Gallup released the results of its annual poll looking at religion in America. At just about every level religion has been on the decline in the US and has fallen to new levels. But this is a time when we need faith the most.
To do that, we have to take steps into places that we haven't for a while, and we have to begin to rethink how we live the life of a faith community. The prayer above is a first step in that journey. It declares our hope to be the spiritual heart of our community. The steps we are taking this Summer say we are working in that direction.
We are creating a backyard space that takes the church outside. It provides a place that is open and easier to access for folks from around our community. It also gives us a chance to do things in a new way. We've already got ideas for how we can open ourselves up. The goal is that instead of seeing a church building with a parking lot, that the church encompasses the building and parking lot, and that ministry happens in all of those places.
But that is just the first step. Before the pandemic set in we were already looking at the work we needed to do inside the church. Our plan at the time was to do a reset to the interior of the church so that it would be up-to-date and ready to use. What we have since discovered is that we need to rethink how we use the space in the church, and what that means for any of our plans.
We know that the Sanctuary needs a lot of work; that hasn't changed. What we do in the rest of the building needs to be rethought so that we are set to be able to be in ministry in a new time. Through this Summer we'll be gathering to think through what that means. Important in doing this work is that we remember the goal, to be the spiritual heart of our community, and that we are inviting others to be in a faith community with us.
I am looking forward to seeing where this journey takes us, and I am glad to be on it with you.