We have a great minister who stands in the background ready to care for our church and also our pastor when we are in need. In fact, she came to the hospital when I was ill in January and was my pastor when I really needed that backup. I mean, of course, our district superintendent, Reverend Sara White.
We don’t always realize how great an asset she is to the churches and pastors under her care, but need a good listening ear or strong leadership, and she is always available. The gift of her presence is always offered in the kindest and gentlest of ways. Both Bill Click and I thought Sarah had very relevant and significant words to the annual conference this yea. A friend who is a very active lay person from Greenwood district said she thought Sarah had the best cabinet message she has ever heard. She recently got back from the very important and grueling general conference held in Tampa. I went once and I found it to be physically very demanding because of the long hours and the importance of some of the matters addressed. She leaves next week for the election of bishops in the southeastern jurisdiction. Keep her in your prayers. I know she will be due for a little rest when she returns.
Recently in the June District newsletter Sarah shared the following words about change that I found particularly meaningful. “ A theological reflection on change would be a grand exercise for some much more brilliant than I.
Recently, an essay noted that truly we cannot create change for it is an ongoing matter of living organisms. What we can create are responses to change. Wow, why does that seem vaguely heretical? On one level, we have been challenged for the past decade to “rethink” , “reboot” and in one Rock Hill congregation, “relive” church. We are told to adapt or be obsolete. Motivators remind us of the need to constantly reinvent. Doesn’t that mean that we must change?”
Sarah goes on to say,” Pentecost …suggests that it is not so heretical to suggest that we live in the midst of the breath of God and that God is setting the parameters for our responses. We do not have to “rethink” but to follow the breath. We do not need to “reboot” but repent, and we have these lives that cannot be “mulliganed” as attractive as that is, but can be connected and strengthened. I told you that I’m not nearly smart enough for this very large area of life. But it is much on my mind.”
Our church leaders and I have been pondering this very important issue for the church. Are we being the best “Aldersgate” we can be in God’s eyes in light of the times we are living in? I think there is an important issue not lifted up by Sarah or the essay she was referring to—being in the right climate and condition to encourage change. It has to do with our openness to our changing community, our awareness of our image in our area of Rock Hill, our willingness to be ready to let the Holy Spirit blow in and change things. Just like no farmer can say with a certainty that the crop they put in will flourish, we can’t control what, how much, or when the new will come. We can prepare our spiritual life and life as a community of faith to be ready and receptive for the Holy Spirit to do its best work.
Newness and change are coming to our church. Our sister church Covenant Presbyterian is beginning a soup kitchen on Sunday afternoons in August, and some of us attended the initial planning meeting two weeks ago. We have said Aldersgate stands ready to help.
In August, a Christian Home school group will begin holding meetings at our church. They will have leaders and parents and approximately 17 teenagers using our church during the day. The trustees have met with the group, gone over the Safe Sanctuary policies and trustee expectations for care of our facility. The board has given approval for the group to begin meeting at our facilities. Reaching out and welcoming the community spreads the word that Aldersgate cares and wants to be the hospitable place where all can feel God’s Grace.