I offer my deepest thanks for the opportunity to share this past year with you. Last month, on July 1st, Sue and I celebrated the beginning of year number two as a part of the pastoral leadership team here at the Parker United Methodist Church. It has really been a wonderful year. The first year is always a time of great learning and discovery. Most of you know the feeling of walking into a new group of people where you don’t know any names, traditions, or significant history. I am grateful for everyone who has been a part of my educational journey!
You might remember that we started our journey together with a series of home fellowship gatherings that were designed to give Sue and I a chance to share our story and to hear from you. Those gatherings were a wonderful blessing. We will forever be grateful to all who attended and for the graciousness of individuals who opened their homes and hosted those events. Thanks so much!
Those gatherings were so important to us that we decided to do it all again. Only this time we would invite people into our home to think and talk together about the future of the church. By the end of July Sue and I held 19 different gatherings in our home with well over 200 people taking part. Some of you even had to meet with us in a ‘construction zone’ and I was able to force most everyone to take a walk in our garden! The potato harvest is getting closer each day!
We learned a lot from the conversations at those gatherings. Thank goodness we remembered to take good notes this time! Those notes will provide us yet another piece of the puzzle as we shift into a more specific time of visioning during the fall season.
Our key conversation at the events focused on the reality that our community continues to change and grow. The Town of Parker is projected to double (can you believe it?!) in housing, commercial endeavors, and population over the next five to ten years. As a result, we have been thinking about the key decisions we need to make as a church today so we can be a continued blessing in our community.
I would like to share just a few of the topics that people brought to those gatherings. There were far too many to share here but I can summarize some of the top items in bullet point form. We can talk about them in much more detail later. For now, here are some of the key issues that people presented:
- There was a deep desire to complete many of the interior and exterior projects from our history; parking lots were high on the list, but our overall ‘curb appeal’ was a frequent item along with the potential development of some larger classroom spaces.
- The need for a continually growing system of hospitality and welcoming ministry that builds on the really good work that is already happening.
- The importance of developing an increasing number of small groups to provide a connecting point for those who are already present and a relational link for new arrivals.
- The need to continually press ourselves to be engaged within the community with a growing number of innovative ministries that are designed to bless specific groups of people.
- The desire to see our growing ministry to youth and children continue to expand and flourish.
- The reality that we will need to be innovative in the way we offer worship services that may expand into a time frame that adds to our current Sunday morning schedule.
Obviously, almost 30 hours of conversation with 200 people generated many more items that will be important to our future development. The bottom line comes down to this: we all agree that we want to be ready when the future arrives. It is coming! Sometimes it is full speed ahead! Our task is to discern the desire of God and then to walk in that path. Some of the steps will be easy and natural; others may require bold and challenging actions. Best of all, God is with us and the Spirit is moving! Thanks be to God.
I continue to be blessed by the opportunity to serve among you and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday morning. Let’s worship together and give thanks for what the Lord is doing!