WEDNESDAY May 27, 2020
I am asked more and more often these days when things will get back to normal. In fact, I find myself wondering the same thing sometimes. But if by normal we mean back to the way things were, I suspect the answer is never.
That may be a shocking thing to contemplate. But think how down through history the business of the church has been largely the disruption of normal.
We are just a few days away from Pentecost Sunday, a time when we remember the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem, ten days after the Ascension. It is often spoken about as the “birthday” of the Christian church. Pandemonium and chaos from most people’s point of view.
In just ten days, on June 9, we will celebrate the 161st anniversary of the official organization of this congregation by ten women and two men. From looking at the records it would seem that little group had two primary concerns: how to offset the proliferation of bars and brothels as Muskegon developed from frontier outpost to a lumbering boomtown; and how to aid in the Abolition of slavery. Over the years, the social activists of this congregation were responsible for the founding of Hackley Hospital, and were a part of the precursor organizations of the Muskegon Rescue Mission and the United Way. By the time of FCC’s centennial, we were becoming known as the Country Club Church, with a growing number of corporate CEO’s among our membership. And yet that spirit of community benefit remained strong. It is hard to imagine Muskegon County Cooperating Churches, or the Community Foundation or Love INC without the participation of FCC members. And it was that same group of people who were instrumental in the building of Jefferson Towers, one of the first rent subsidized senior housing projects. We’ve done emergency pantries for decades, and we were among the first to bring Mobile Food Pantries to the community. By the time I came here as Senior Minister, we were well on our way to becoming known in the Community as the Breakfast Church. And now that great program is on hold until who knows when. At one time we had a thriving Women’s Fellowship – as in many churches around the country much of the work of the church was done by Ladies Aid Societies and Guilds and Circles. And now that is a thing of the past.
The one constant, it seems, is change. Who would have imagined, even five or ten years ago, that we could do worship services online and meetings through Zoom? Sometimes change is progress, sometimes not. And sometimes it seems it is just change. But those winds of change are becoming a howling hurricane, right now, and yes, we need to do a bit of hunkering down, but we also need to begin to plan for what the future will look like.
One of the best bits of advice I have gotten on that score is, “Start with WHY!” Simon Sinek is the proponent from whom I learned that gem. I’ve talked about it before, and I recommend looking him up on line, if the concept is new to you. Over the next days and weeks, I intend on devoting my online thoughts to identifying our Why as an organization/institution/community and using that as a framework for organizing our vision of who we are and what we are and how we are to live that out in days to come.
I would treasure a conversation with you about what that might look like.
Grace and peace to you all.