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My predecessor, Glen Miles, started the tradition of giving an annual “state of the church” address. The precedent has evolved into me sharing an annual report of the church’s previous year. In some ways, this year’s report could be “it was the best of times and the worst of times”. We celebrated 100 years with so many marvelous events and milestones, and we had our first Easter and Christmas in person in years. We also endured the covid yo-yo effect of never quite knowing if the plans we were making would come to pass due to variants and local surges of the pandemic. But really, we could say that the 100th year mirrored our first year. We were born just after the 1918 pandemic which hit Kansas City hard. And yet, people were inspired to prioritize their faith, form a new community, and pour their hearts and dollars into spiritual growth and community service.
I am incredibly grateful and richly blessed by the qualities I see in our congregation: deeply resilient faith, overflowing compassion, and bold vision. Two quick examples would be that last year’s Easter offering was the largest in the last 5 years! And 12 new families participated in Christian Community Camp this year.
At the same time, we know that the pandemic has altered us, accelerating a trajectory that was already in motion. All of us have been through a world event that has awakened us to reflect on the values and priorities we hold as essential to a meaningful life. A recent study about churches in America during the pandemic says “While churches and other religious communities remain among the most stable and lasting human endeavors, we are living in an unprecedented new era of ministry.” The church needs to be reimagined. How do we continue to be God’s people, living out our calling to be the body of Christ on this earth?
Martin Luther was a Catholic priest who lived at a time of seismic upheaval in the world and challenged the church to reform. He protested that the church was not living up to its high calling and those who followed him became “Protestant.” Today we forget that we began as a revolutionary movement to embrace change. I love what Luther said:
Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God.
What does your heart cling to? There is so much temptation for us to let our hearts cling to stuff that ultimately does not matter. We need one another in the community of faith in order to realign our hearts with what brings abiding joy and hope for all. Who knows what they will say about us 100 years from now!
To see what’s in the “report” click HERE.
With grace and Peace,