On Sunday, we will celebrate the end of another Program year in the church. While many things will continue like Children’s Church, Traditional Worship, The Gathering, and so on, many things like Choir come to an end for the year. Like any end, there is always some nostalgia about the past year, and what a year it has been.
While we still have not had the chance to hire a Christian Educator to work with our children, we have seen the growth of our children’s programs thanks to the dedication of our parents and members. Starting with VBS last summer, we turned a corner and could see the large amount of youth in our church. This allowed Mary Anne to start her Children’s Choir that blessed us with music for worship and a real jolt to our witness in the way God was working in our church. In Children’s church we have seen a program, both the older kid in the Mission Hall and younger in the nursery that is served by dedicated leaders and is so good that the children involved are excited to participate.
In Worship, we have been blessed through our choir. They give their time every Thursday night to practice; often some even plan their vacations around important Sundays and events. Though they might be small, they are mighty and have blessed us with their talent and dedication. This Sunday we will celebrate their work and gifts as they share with us some of their favorite anthems. Though they are finishing for the summer, there will be many opportunities for you to get involved with the summer singers starting next Sunday.
We have even seen the start of a vital new ministry in “the Gathering.” Through it’s non-traditional worship and flexibility we have created a space to allow creativity and individual growth. For some, this service is educational, for other’s worship, while others find it to be a powerful fellowship time. Which we hope, thanks to a recent grant, will be a model and safe place for those in our community who are lost and seeking a spiritual home.
There is so much that has happened in the last year, I could go on for pages! Nevertheless, I have to say that one of the most powerful things that has changed is the attitude of our congregation. When I came it seemed like the congregation was mostly concerned with whether or not we were going to survive. Today, that question has changed to how can we be better and more attractive and connected to our community. Though it may not seem that different, the difference is actually quite huge! We have accepted that God is going to lead us into the future, and though we might hit some stumbling blocks along the way, we know that we are going to have a future.
As we work towards the future, there are a lot of things that we will be doing, starting in the new program year like a men’s group, hopefully by the end of the summer. We will also use our VBS this summer to be a springboard for our growing children’s program next fall.
However, to be successful next fall we have to do planning and experimentation this summer. This means that you might see some changes. For example, a few members have been asking to see if they can get more out of the services. So every week in the “From the Pastor’s Desk. . .” (the Friday Letter) at the bottom you will find a paragraph and some questions to prepare yourself for the service. We will also be doing some experimentation with the services, bulletins, and so on to see if we can make worship more accessible and connected.
There will also be a major change in my schedule in that I will now be switching my “day off” from Monday to Friday. This was something that was suggested at the Credo Conference. The reasoning behind that is to allow me to have a true Sabbath day that would be easier to keep. Moreover, it will allow me to be more responsive to what happens on Sunday. While it is experimental through the summer, it will be a big change for me since my whole professional life I have had Mondays off. So we will see how it works!
Lastly, I will say that summers are usually not as scheduled like the rest of the year. This means that I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule. While I always have time to meet with members, you’re less likely to run into scheduling conflicts if you need a longer conversation with me. Also, any time of year I am willing and eager to meet you or your family for lunch, dinner, tea, Golf, or whatever, just let me know. Every time I have had the change to meet with folks I have enjoyed what I have learned, and it really helps to gain perspective on where we have been and where we are going.
As I look back over the past year and look forward to the next, I can say without a doubt that I am so happy that I have had the opportunity to join with this congregation in our unique journey and am extremely hopeful and excited about our future!
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen