I’d like to start off by saying that it has been an honor to get to know this congregation over the last two months. The more you share with me your stories, history, concerns and dreams for the future of this church, the more it has inspired me to be deeply in prayer about where God is calling us to go as a community.
And we must not be mistaken. God is calling us to go — to take action. When Jesus commissioned his disciples for ministry in the world, he called them to go. To teach. To baptize. To change lives. To love. And most importantly, to make new disciples.
Presumably we all know we are called to do this — and we want to. It’s why most of us show up to church on Sunday mornings, at least in part. But most of us also know that in our culture today, the Church is being provided less and less opportunities to share the love of Christ with new people by simply sitting in our pews.
Over the next couple of months, we will be constructing a vision and strategic plan for ministry here at Hopewell United Methodist Church, which is a fancy way of saying that we will be answering two basic questions: 1. Who are we? 2. What are the goals for ministry that we believe God is calling us to focus on?
One thing that you have made clear to me is that you would like to be a resource for Hopewell and the surrounding communities. You would like to be a place where people of all ages, and especially families will be transformed by the love of God, receive spiritual nourishment, and community support.
In order to do this, however, we are going to have to start out by going to where the people are. I have been spending a lot of time trying to get to know the Hopewell and Pennington communities over the last two months and an interesting opportunity presented itself that we will be engaging in as a church.
On Sunday November 6, area churches in NJ and PA will be participating in a community-wide event called The Church Has Left the Building. Churches will be leaving their building on this Sunday to be the hands and feet of Jesus in countless community projects. In a single day, disciples from all over will be stocking pantries, making quilts for deployed military, cleaning up the environment, rebuilding homes, making meals for the homebound and so much more. We will have the opportunity to participate in these projects, and even some of our own.
In the evening, all of the participating churches will gather in our sanctuary for a community dinner and evening worship service to celebrate the ways the Spirit of God moved throughout the day. This will be a fantastic opportunity to connect with our neighbors, extend love to the world, and get a little taste of the Kingdom of God.
We know that worshipping God is more than coming to church on a Sunday morning. Worship is living a whole life that glows because we have been radically changed by God’s love. We need to get out into the community and glow, so that others will be inspired to radically love too.
This may be different from what you are used to — even a stretch for some. But I hope you will all take a chance and go with me. It is in the going — of our hands, feet, and hearts — that God’s faithfulness promises to show up most clearly to us all.
— Pastor Kate