This fall the staff is working through a book called A Field Guide for the Missional Congregation: Embarking on a Journey of Transformation. We are only a few chapters in and we are already amazed at how relevant and real the messages are, especially when it comes to seeing ourselves as a missional body. Like almost every Presbyterian Church and most within other denominations, we are asking what it means to be the church, especially since our historic models just do not seem to work. And maybe that is a good thing?
While still in seminary I met a missionary from Mexico City. He had come up to a forum on missions and forever changed my mind on mission. His message was simple yet direct. He was so proud of the relationship he had with a church in LA and was proud of how many people in that LA church had come to a deeper relationship with God because they came to Mexico City on their mission. Americans and Europeans are often concerned about the rest of the world, but anytime I talk with Christians from outside the west, they are very concerned about us. And with good reason; far too often we see faith as something we do when it is convenient or merely something we support when it is on our terms.
It is one of the reasons I loved going on mission trips, because it taught those who went how to wait, be patient, let go and let God. Being real, as it did for the LA group that went to Mexico City, the mission was always far more for the people that went than the people they served, and often whenever a mission trip came home their eyes were opened to the needs all around them.
We are in a unique situation. Few churches in our denomination have the opportunities that this congregation does. Our reach touches the poorest and wealthiest communities in the area. We have senior and low income housing within walking distance of the church. We have many homeless that walk and live throughout our neighborhood as well as many other areas of social concern. Many schools surround from preschools to community colleges and even two major universities. Interestingly, we are technically the closest Presbyterian Church to Santa Clara University (actually the same exact distance, 2.1 miles, as FPC Santa Clara) and are starting to draw praise band folks from San Jose State!
So why talk about all of this in a stewardship letter? Well, it is simple; what we do as a church is mission. Much of the money does not go to pretty or flashy programs, actually most goes to staffing and building concerns. For a lot of reasons people have given over the years these are just not as important as supporting “missions” or programs that “make a difference.” The truth of the matter is that our church makes a big difference! If our church was not here, our neighbors would notice and our community would be lesser.
The respect for the church has allowed us to have a strong moral voice in our neighborhood, but the only way that we can continue is through the support that you give. So this year I am asking that you give what you can to support the Ministry of Westminster and help to keep our mission going in this community.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen