Summer is near at hand. The weather has finally begun to warm up. The leaves are out. The animals are busy. Students are graduating (we have at least three graduates this spring—Michael Kolakowski is graduating from Troy High School; Brett Cornwall graduated from Rochester College; Bethany Moekler received her master’s degree from Oakland University). Congratulations go to all three. Graduations mark points of transition. They’re a time of great joy, but also present a bit of uncertainty. Even if one knows what comes next, there is still a sense of mixed feelings involved. The future is always unclear to us, but as followers of Jesus we know this one thing—we do not go into thefuture alone.
It is June. That means we are holding a congregational meeting on June 5th to elect officers, deacons, elders, and trustees. While there will be some who will continue in their positions, there will also be new persons taking positions of leadership. Whether continuing on or taking on new positions, these leaders will be charged with giving faithful service to God and to God’s mission in the world. As pastor I look forward to working with the new leadership team led by incoming President, Anne McCauslin. I also want to thank all who have served this past year. This would include our President, Tim McGookey, who completes his two terms as President. Of course, Tim won’t be sitting back and relaxing. He will get to be the new personnel chair. So once again, my thanks go to all who have served this past year and who will serve in the coming year.
As we look forward I’m excited about what the coming year holds for us. Even as this past year has involved discernment on whether to move forward as an Open and Affirming congregation, this coming year will give us an opportunity to focus our attention on the connection between the Lord’s Table and our mission in the world. As was reported briefly in the last AveNews, CWCC has received a Vital Worship Grant of nearly $11,000 from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. The grant will fund a number of events throughout the coming year as well as provide resources for our ministry life. The project will be administered by Pastor Rick Modglin-Green, whose increased responsibilities will be funded by the grant. This grant will provide us with study materials for our small groups. It will help fund several guest speakers and workshop leaders, including the Rev. Dr. Ruth Duck, Professor of Worship at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, who will be our Perry
Gresham Lecturer in November. One thing to note about Ruth is that she is a well-known hymn writer. So keep watching for more information, as it is my hope and prayer that at the end of the year the events and activities funded by the grant will have helped us further define our mission as worshiping community and as a serving community.
This grant does something else for us. It helps remind us that we are first and foremost a worshiping community. Everything we do emerges out of worship. Jesus spoke of two commands. Love God and love your neighbor. The second emerges out of the first. I was reading a book on stewardship that reminded me that while there are many fine non-profit institutions out there, institutions we might support with our generous giving, but the purpose of the church is different. So, while last year we donated Brett’s old car to WDET to help fund the station’s programs that I have enjoyed over the years. We give to other charities and non-profits because we believe in their work. But, the vast majority of our financial giving goes to the church. That is because we believe that the church does something no other organization does. As J. Clif Christopher puts it in
his book Whose Offering Plate Is It? (Abingdon, 2010): “I am convinced that the only institution on the face of
the planet that can possibly change the world is the church. No army, no government, and no nonprofit has the power to change the hearts of people like the body of Jesus Christ, and as those hearts change then so does practice, and so does the world. Effective financial stewardship helps the church get its funding to facilitate that change” (p. xi). We are called to a specific vocation. Grounded in the worship of God, we participate in Christ’s ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).
So, as we head into this next phase of life together, let us remember the core values statement that we discerned in 2009. I think it still serves us well: “Central Woodward Christian Church is seeking to become a
compassionate, serving, accepting, spiritually joyful, witness, worshipping Missional Community of Faith.” Let us continue to allow the Spirit room to guide us toward fulfilling that vision.
Pastor Bob Cornwall