Saturday, June 22, 2013

Parish Community Growth

The other night,while watching the vicar of dibley,on net flicks,it dawned on me,that one of the purposes of church and ministry is not just worship,but growth.
Personal growth yes,but more importantly, congregational growth.
In this shows episode,a terrible storm hits the town and causes a tree to fall into the church,breaking the stained glass behind the altar.
With the money raised to replace the window,the discussion arises about what scene was actually on the glass,although they all looked at it every Sunday,no one could remember what the exact depiction it portrayed.
After checking church records it was found to be Noah Ark and not the Good Shepard,as they all though.
Everything seems set,to move forward for the replacement until,the vicar and some congregants hear about an earthquake in another country and the personal suffering going on there,they decide to make a contribution to this poor ravaged country.
In the end the church spends about 10% of the money on a clear glass window to replace the stained one,and everyone admires how beautiful the view of the valley behind the church is.
The rest of the money is sent off to help those in need in the earthquake area,with the blessings of the congregation.
To see the first episode of this series, is to understand how much of a step forward this church had made.
Our own church had this same sort of leap of faith.
Four years ago our vision community and priest,decided the time had come to go from being a solitary church on the hill,meeting our own personal needs,and to step forward and start a monthly community meal.
With little money to start,our Priest Father Peter,went before the board to ask for $1200.00,to make this dream sustainable for a year.
With nervousness Father brought forth his idea,and to his great surprise,one member said "Isn't this what a church is suppose to do,help those in need". At that point our community meal was born.
Today we serve 3 meals a month and have become a friend to the neighbors who eat our fine meals and share in our small table of non perishable canned goods and food.
So what happened?
We where blessed with a priest who understood the importance of teaching,preaching and showing the church members to be greater then themselves.
Sometimes we forget that the reason for a church is not about just money making and support,it is also about helping neighbors.
We have come along way in the 7 years when I first joined this parish.
Though the growth in spirit is greater then that of numbers,God has given us not what we want, but what we need.
There is a spiritual song that says"its a gift to be simple,its a gift to be free,its a gift to come down where we ought to be."
Little by little I see our church becoming that gift and the people sitting in the pews beginning to understand that there is more to church then stained glass windows and pretty vestments.
God surrounds us with his natural beauties and we in turn spread his love to others, and if we do it right,at some point,those we have helped and supported,they in turn will help better the lives of those of their neighbors. 

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