Florence Congregational Church
Thursday, January 18, 2018
A Place to Connect

Pastor Irv’s Corner - June 2014

I write following the Florence Congregational Church (FCC) Annual meeting on May 4th while things are still fresh in my mind.  I have also recently received a newsletter “Sojourners News” from the church that our beloved Helen Dupes now attends in Charlottesville, Virginia that offers some additional inspiration.

The Annual Meeting was informative and in some ways quite predictable.  I had hoped we might have the chance to brainstorm and spend some healthy time envisioning our future together.  It seemed obvious that was not to happen at this meeting as people began to glance at their watches early on before the official meeting was called to order.  However, it’s okay.   We completed a small exercise that gives us a start at envisioning what God is calling us to do.   I have written of this subject before.  However, let me share a few other thoughts, first.

Pastor Melanie of Sojourners, noted above, speaks to the physical and emotional rebirth of the church – a post-Easter reflection of Jesus’ resurrection and new life.  She notes that like with disciples responding to Jesus’ death and resurrection, we members of the church often respond to changes (rebirth) within the church.  Pastor Melanie writes, “… the disciples were filled with anger, fear, and anxiety.  They did not know what might happen next.  Which is exactly where we find ourselves today.  Not because we fear and unpredictable oppressive empire, but because we fear uncertainty and change.”  I couldn’t agree more. 

I am very aware that many of the membership are feeling quite anxious.   We have lost a lot of members over several years which means there are fewer members keeping up with the work of the church.  It is difficult to dream, envision, think outside the box, and be creative when you’re being called to complete the many tasks of the church.  Like the disciples of Jesus’ time, the details and work feel overwhelming.  Moderator, Phyllis Maggiolino and I observed this at the Annual meeting – twenty-five committed, determined, devoted members desiring to serve Christ somehow in some way.  These are members who believe that Christ calls us to carry his torch… to carry his message out into the world.   Yes, perhaps discouraged and anxious at times, these members continue to pray, work, and engage in the call.  And they continue to pray over the many members who are not currently attending, especially those who are physically unable to at this time.  And, they (and I) wonder what it is that’s preventing or causing the other one hundred fifty members from attending. 

Is it the world’s chaos?  The busyness of life’s journey?  Too many other community activities?  School sports, band, theatre, clubs?  Disinterest?  Style of Worship?  Leadership?  What?  My colleagues see similar things happening at the churches they serve.

Recently I had the opportunity to talk to a member of the Oakham Congregational Church of Massachusetts.  I spoke of the beauty of Congregationalism and our hold to the three tenants of Faith, Freedom and Fellowship.  Each of us, unrestricted in our engagement with the Holy Spirit in interpreting Scripture, free to worship where we want, and to seek out fellowship with other Christians.  However, we also made a pledge when joining Christ’ church to uphold a covenant. 

 

We solemnly covenant to study the peace, purity and well-being of this church; to attend its services; to support its worship and ordinances, to love its members as our brothers and sisters in Christ; and to honor our Lord as we may be able by an upright life.

As best as we may be able.  Some members, who are unable to attend, do this through prayer, notes and phone calls.  Some members now live a distance away and cannot make it to church, but do correspond occasionally.  And then there are others who just don’t.

We really want to encourage you to reconnect… to share your ideas, dreams, vision and hopes for the church of Christ.  Please tell us that you continue to nurture your relationship with Christ…. Tell us God is close to your heart… Tell us that you carry the Holy Spirit within.  We know we need to make some changes – the world is changing rapidly – to serve within the current social climate.  We want to know what you think.  What changes need to be made that would help you in your faith journey?.
 
In Christ, Pastor Irv

 

 

Florence Congregational Church • 130 Pine Street, Florence, Massachusetts 01062 • 413.584.1325
 

 

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