Friday, November 21, 2014

Renting or Owning?

Slang – don’t you love it?  Sometimes it’s incomprehensible to everyone past their teens, but occasionally it expresses a concept better than a long, reasoned argument will.  Take the phrase “owning it.”  Until a few years ago, if you owned something – your house, your car, your dog –you possessed the item.  Now, though, the Urban Dictionary says that to own it is “[t]aking pride in what you got.”

Let’s pass over the fact that the definition should read “…in what you have” and think about the concept.  Owning it in this sense doesn’t just apply to real estate and personal property.  Students passing a difficult test with flying colors say they owned it.  Women trying an attractive new personal style are told to own it.  Psychologists exhort patients to own themselves.  To make a short story long, owning it in these contexts means something like: “You possess this [item, characteristic, personal triumph], and worked hard to do that, and because you did, you should be very proud of it and of yourself.”  (Whew.  Own it is a lot easier.)

What does this have to do with us?  Well, author Perry Noble lists this as one of the 10 most important characteristics of growing churches:

The people in the church are OWNERS, not merely “members.” Members have rights, owners have responsibilities. The people in these churches understand that it is not the pastor’s job to minister to the people but rather the body’s job to minister to the body! And as a result people serve Jesus by serving others ...

Last year our church held its first Appreciative Inquiry summit to talk about church growth.  During the planning sessions, however, our focus changed, and we talked instead about how to revitalize our church.

What’s the difference?  Well, growth is mainly about adding warm bodies.  Revitalization, on the other hand, includes growth, but also covers increased participation on every level by existing members.  It’s about MORE – more giving, more sharing, more excitement, more love.  More of the things that we appreciate about our church.  More ownership.

The church’s 50th anniversary celebration was the first step in this process.  The anniversary worship service, the ice cream social, and the gala dinner all exceeded our expectations and opened up new discussions about our future.  Hosting the Presbytery meeting this spring led to a renewed dedication to maintaining our physical plant.  The ongoing capital improvement project has lifted our spirits as the new paint has been applied, the plumbing and air conditioning issues have been resolved, and new plantings have gone in.  All these things demonstrate what Dr. Miki Kashtan calls “the long arc of commitment.” 

Let’s keep that arc on its trajectory.  This fall, attend a group meeting you wouldn’t ordinarily go to, buy an extra memorial brick for the courtyard, ask a neighbor or friend to come with you to a fellowship dinner or a worship service.  Let’s prove that we’re not just members of this church – we own it!
~Beth Mabee

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Prayer Shawl Ministry in November

This ministry appreciates the support of our congregation.  We thank you for your contributions for us to buy yarn.

This month we delivered 73 pieces to the Airman's Attic and 71 pieces to Hospice.  Now we are intent on increasing our supply for our own fellowship needs.

We are now meeting every Monday at 9:30 am in Annex 3. Come crochet or knit with us.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fireside Room Update

During the Appreciating our Campus summit this summer, a suggestion that the Fireside Room be updated was greeted with general applause, and changes to make it more comfortable and versatile are underway. So far the fireplace “bumpout” has been painted and our copy of Salvador Dali’s Crucifixion hung over the fireplace itself. Existing furniture has also been arranged in front of the fireplace in a conversational grouping

The next big change: adding groups of small tables and chairs that can be used for bridge, meetings, and social events The tables have been purchased new; the chairs will be moved from Annex 3 and reupholstered to increase their comfort. The beautiful large table already in place, donated by Evelyn Haas in memory of her husband, will anchor one end of the room and function as a serving or display area.

We are fortunate that the church already owned the artwork, brass accent pieces, and most of the furniture used in this transformation. Designated donations have enabled us to add the new tables, reupholster the chairs (fabric sample, right), and buy attractive accent greenery to finish everything off.

We hope these changes will trigger increased use of the room for small group meetings of all kinds. The work will not be 100% done until the interior painting is completed this spring, but the upholstery work should be finished and the room ready for use well before that!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Journey

Two books arrived on my desk last week reminding me that faith is always and foremost a journey. It’s a journey with a destination. We all have a vivid picture of the journey’s end. The mansion with many rooms Jesus described (John 14: 1-7) is a lovely image. It’s a peaceful and hopeful vision for people who live in a world that’s anything but.

The real task of faith is living and traveling this journey, in the “meantime.” The church exists primarily as a community of travelers sharing each other’s hopes and fears, encouraging and helping one another to live. The church created rituals and symbols to mark the cycles of our lives.

Advent marks the beginning of the church year and lays before us the pathway of faith for the year ahead. Advent initiates once again remembering, retelling, and celebrating the whole drama of God’s revelation. From the book: The Uncluttered Heart, Making Room for God During Advent and Christmas, Beth A. Richardson, Upper Room Books, Nashville TN.

Richardson’s book is a series of spiritual exercises and devotions designed to take readers on the journey through Advent, leading up to Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Richardson writes:

We come hungry to this season of preparation—hungry for words of life, for rituals of preparation, for disciplines to help us on our way……Advent is often the busiest time of the year. And yet, we are called to make time and space to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ…..No matter how busy we may become, God is waiting to break through our endless tasks and distractions to remind us that we are not alone; indeed, God is present with us in every moment.
The other book is a spiritual and literary biography of Fredrick Buechner. Buechner is one of the more important voices in contemporary theology and literature. Buechner’s heroes and heroines are on the same spiritual journey. In their hopes and dreams, triumphs and tragedies, we find encouragement to live our own lives. Buechner and Richardson have discovered what ancient sages and monks learned. Everywhere and always God is with us, near to us and in us…..

In Advent we continue the journey, with authors like Richardson and Buechner. And with one another as we prepare to celebrate God’s presence in the world and in our lives. Remember, retell, celebrate, open your heart; make room for God’s transforming presence. Christ is coming. Christ is coming. Christ is coming! Thanks be to God!


Monday, November 10, 2014

Mission in November

Valley View Food Bank

This year for Thanksgiving, consider sharing your blessings with others through a gift of food to Valley View Community Food Bank. Founded in March 2007, the food bank’s mission “is to serve those in need with compassion and respect while providing the resources for wholesome nutritious food.” Unfortunately, with the holidays approaching, supplies at the food bank are critically low.

According to a recent announcement by founder Jesse Ramirez, Valley View Community Food Bank is two weeks away from running out of canned goods. The food bank serves approximately 300 people a day, so their food stocks may be exhausted before Thanksgiving. Their website reports that their client intake has seen an increase of almost 65% new families and individuals looking for resources and assistance. Ramirez was quoted in the Daily News-Sun as saying, “I’ve had to stop helping out agencies with food since we are running so low on certain items.”

As usual we will be collecting food for Valley View on the first Sunday of the month (November 2), and a box will also be available in Swain Hall for food donations through November 18, the night of this month’s Fellowship Dinner. Any type of canned goods would be helpful; other items the food bank always welcomes include:
  • Peanut butter, jelly, jams, pancake syrup
  • Cereal, hot and cold
  • Bread mixes: pancake, biscuit, cornbread, cake
  • Fruit juice
  • Baby food, formula, diapers, wipes
  • Toiletries: toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, etc.
You can also drop off holiday food donations such as turkeys and mashed potatoes at the food bank yourself; it’s located at 10615 W. Peoria Avenue.