Setting Sail

They say in old stories that you can't discover new lands without losing sight of the shore for a long time. 
– Laurie Gough

 

For some time now, I’ve felt like our church is heading into uncharted territory. 

 

There was a time when I would have described our congregation as a healthy little country church that was growing slowly but surely, quietly bucking the downward trend that is affecting many churches across our country. Now, however, when I am asked to describe our church, I mostly just tell people that they have to come see it to believe it. 

 

We had 196 people in worship on Sunday, Dec. 9th  including 30-plus kids, and 28 souls in the choir.  Sure, there were a lot of visitors, it being pageant Sunday and all; but the truth is, we now have visitors in significant numbers most every Sunday.  I greeted a  family on their way out the door for what I thought was the first time, and they told me  this was their third visit.  Friends, I’ve always worked very hard to try and remember people’s names; now I’m struggling just to remember people’sfaces, which for me is uncharted territory indeed.

 

To be honest, I’m not really sure how to describe our church anymore; and if my conversations with the friends and members of this congregation are any indication, I’m not alone in this.  As we head into a new year, I think we are also heading into a new era, which is why the deacons and the church council have agreed that it is time to bring someone from the outside in to help us take stock of who we are and who God is calling us to be. 

 

To this end we’ve invited a wonderful coach, the Rev. Paul Nickerson, to come and lead us in a weekend-long visioning process.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with Paul before, and have learned a tremendous amount under his leadership.  On Saturday, February 2, from 10:00-4:00, (*Location to be determined)  the whole congregation is invited to come and work with Paul as he leads us through a process of discernment, helping us clarify who we are, what our mission is, and how we might best live up to God’s calling in our unique context.  We’ll follow up on Sunday with an abbreviated worship service followed by a discussion with Paul that will build on the work we will have accomplished on Saturday.

 

You know as well as I do that in order for this effort to be successful, we need as broad and deep a level of participation as possible.  As Congregationalists, we know that the best way to hear God’s voice is to come together and prayerfully listen to one another.  I know it is a lot to ask in terms of time and energy, but we want you all to have a voice in our discussions.  I am confident that this meeting will mark a turning point in the life of this congregation, and I hope you will be a part of the process as we chart a course for the future.

 

With great hope,Pastor Sarah

 

*Please check our website, www.firstchurchhadley.org, as the date draws near for information on where this meeting will take place.