Last Sunday was an important day in the life of our congregation. During the three worship services, we named and denounced the evil of racism and hatred that was manifested recently in Charlottesville, VA, through the presence and actions of white supremacists, the Neo-Nazi’s, and the KKK. We acknowledged that racism is profoundly present within our culture, and that we—in the name of Jesus Christ—must reject and work against any ideology that affirms one race as superior to any other race.
We took time in each worship service to speak to one another in groups of 2 or 3 (or more) about the above events. We invited each person to answer two questions in a spirit of careful listening and without judging the answers we heard. The first question was, “How are you feeling about the events of the last week, beginning with Charlottesville?” The second question was, “How can our congregation best address these issues going forward?”
I was personally deeply gratified by the conversations that I witnessed and by those that I later heard about. Some of you wrote down suggestions about how we can move forward and submitted them at the end of the service. Many of you mentioned that it was very helpful to you to have an opportunity to express yourself within the safe space of our congregation. Many of us left the service asking, “What happens now?”
First of all, please know that the church officers (elders and deacons) and staff will prayerfully review every suggestion and comment that was submitted. Second, please know that earlier in the year, the session approved a new Strategic Plan that will set a course for our church over the next 3-5 years. One of the approved strategic initiatives is “More fully engaging Christ’s ministry of reconciliation.” A strategic planning team is being formed around this initiative, and one of the charges to that team will be helping our leadership and the congregation navigate the challenges of racism. Seeking racial reconciliation has become a high priority for our church family. Thank you for your courageous engagement of these important conversations last Sunday. Thank you also for your commitment to continue to work for God’s reconciliation of all things in Jesus Christ in the days ahead.
As we look toward this coming Sunday, I want to especially draw your attention to the Foundations Sunday School Class that meets between the morning worship services at 10 a.m. in the Gym. This Sunday, we will hear an inspiring report from the Youth Mission Team about their summer trip to Austria to work alongside a NAPC mission partner that helps refugees from the Middle East recover from the trauma of war and find healing and hope in a new country.
Finally, please note that the session has called a congregational meeting immediately following the 11 a.m. worship service in the Sanctuary, for the purpose of electing a new class of deacons and elders, along with next year’s Nominating Team. A secondary purpose of the meeting will be to hear a report about a new staffing model that is in alignment with the Strategic Plan.
Cynthia and I look forward to seeing you in worship this Sunday!
-Dr. Scott Weimer