It’s back to school time. For some that means getting back into a “normal” rhythm. For us as a congregation it means that some of the activities that have been on hiatus get restarted. Choir is back in session. Bible Studies restart. Children’s Sunday School goes into a different rhythm. For many of us vacations are completed, and hopefully we’re well rested. September means that fall is around the corner. Cooler weather, changing colors of the leaves, among other things, catch our attention.
As we head into September there a number of items to keep in mind. First of all, we will be starting up an emphasis on the Open Table and Mission, an emphasis funded by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. We launch this emphasis on September 11. Rick will be preaching and we’ll have a special lunch and activity following worship. We’ll be launching a six-week book study focusing on Nora Gallagher’s book The Sacred Meal. We will have several opportunities for people to read and engage the book. Then in November Dr. Ruth Duck, Professor of Worship at Garrett Evangelical Divinity School, will be with us for the annual Perry Gresham Lectures. There will be other opportunities throughout the year to reflect on our theme. My hope and prayer is that this journey together will help us reflect on who we are as God’s people who gather together under the name Central Woodward Christian Church. You will be hearing more about our emphasis from Rick, Carol, Diana, Susan, and Anne (as well as from me).
With September comes another important event. Susan Menko has been called by the Council to serve in the position of Minister of Spiritual Formation. She is in the process of being Commissioned by the Region for this position. In this position she will oversee the education ministries of the church, especially our children’s ministry. Susan brings a long history of work in this area, having served as director of Christian education in several congregations. For this year she’ll serve double duty as staff and as council member. As soon as the Commission on the Ministry finalizes Susan’s status we will plan a service of commissioning. So, stay tuned.
Over the summer I shared three stewardship sermons that draw from the stewardship materials produced by the Center for Faith and Giving (Disciples of Christ). Over the next three months I’ll share four more sermons on stewardship. You will be receiving a letter from me in the near future inviting you to consider prayerfully how you can support of the ministry of this congregation financially. Then you will receive a packet of information from the Stewardship Team, as well as hear testimonies in worship from members who are committed to financially supporting the ministry of the church. We will conclude this emphasis on November 13. One of the reasons for starting the conversation, which goes under the theme “Go and Do the Same,” in the summer is so remember that stewardship isn’t just something we talk about during the fall campaign, but that it is a lifestyle issue. More about this to come.
I want to conclude this dispatch by remembering the events of September 11, 2001. It is fifteen years since that infamous day when thousands died in an act of terrorism. I remember saying at the time that things would never be the same again. In many ways that is true—every time I go to the airport I’m reminded that things have changed—but I’m not sure human nature has changed all that much. Many of us hoped that this tragedy would bring us closer together, that it would foster conversation across religious and political lines, but for the most part those dreams have fallen short of what we hoped would occur. Yes, some people became more involved in interfaith work. We’ve paid more attention to Islam. But unfortunately, we’ve also seen greater division in our society. So, when we gather on September 11th, we’ll have an opportunity to stop and remember, and recommit ourselves to being a people of grace and mercy. After all, that is the definition of neighbor, according to Jesus.