“I See a New Church” Sept. 2019

“I See a New Church”
Pastor’s Ponderings – September 1, 2019
Our denomination and church are in a time of change and visioning. The scripture from Genesis 32 about Jacob wrestling with God comes to mind. The story tells that Jacob took his two wives, two maids and 11 children, and lots of animals and servants. He sent all of them ahead of him on their journey and spent time alone. Jacob, alone in the night, wrestled with “a man”, who is described in some places as an angel and some places as God. In the morning, as day was breaking, the man did not prevail against Jacob, but put Jacob’s hip out of its socket. At the conclusion of the altercation, the man gave Jacob a new name. From this event forward, Jacob would now be called Israel. Israel told this story as a time of wrestling with God and surviving.
Jacob became a new creation! He met his adversary in the night and overcame the challenge. In the morning, before Jacob returned to his family, he had a new name, a new vision and a new identity. I believe our church is wrestling just like Jacob did. I trust that in the morning, as light breaks before us, we will have a new name, a focused vision and a new identity! “I See a New Church” as we become a people who claim hospitality for all, the love of God for all and the power of God to make all things new.
“I See a New Church” was the theme for our Annual Conference 2019 and the Bishop has asked for input from churches as we look into the future. He wants to hear from you: What is the new church that God envisions for people of the Wesleyan tradition of Christianity?
We have already done a lot of this work. We worked on our Ministry Action Plan in 2018 and have carried it forward for discussions about the new building during 2019. I’m so excited about the extra space to extend our homeless meal ministry with “and Two Fishes”, and gathering as a congregation and small groups in the fellowship hall. There is a music suite redesign with an open concept work space for music leadership; extended space for ministry staff, and classrooms for our children to stay upstairs on Sunday mornings. The youth space is getting a redesign to create more space, and of course, their room will have direct access up the stairs to the new fellowship hall and the sanctuary. Faith, Justice and Hospitality are the key words and issues you have focused on with the Ministry Action Plan.
The work of praying and envisioning God’s call is a constant relationship. We have to continue to stay present to the unfolding call of God that is alive and powerful among us. The Bishop is asking specific questions on the theme of “I See a New Church” to encourage us to keep thinking and to get our input. The questions are these.
  1. What central mission and purpose is your church called to at this time?
  2. What is the central need of your neighborhood and surrounding community?
  3. How can your church fulfill its purpose in ”making disciples for the transformation of the world?”
  4. What compelling missional message would relate to the non-churched people living in your community?
  5. Who is God calling your church to be?
There is a dramatic movement of the Spirit in our Church, both UMC Vista and the United Methodist Church. Like Jacob wrestling in the night, we are looking toward a new day. As we move into fall, our stewardship team is filled with hope that our ministry is expanding and growing. Our theme for fall will be “I See a New Church” to engage us in this conversation and fund our vision for ministry.I look forward to the fall and our future ministry together and hope you do too!
Grace and peace, Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann Shaw

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