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Pastor’s Newsletter Message – February 2017

~ Talking about Tomorrow ~

Without counsel, plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed.”

~Proverbs 15:22

Dear Members and Friends,

Church members sometimes ask me what I love about my job. Most of them don’t really know what I do aside from what they see on Sunday mornings. There’s much to love about being your pastor, but mostly it’s the day-to-day things that keep me contented and engaged. I love working with words and the ancient Scriptural texts; old as they are, their meanings are always fresh. I love journeying alongside people, learning their stories, discovering truth with them. I love leading worship, even if I do sometimes miss sitting in the pews. I love baptizing a child and seeing that child grow into a real part of our congregation: one more unique personality, one more distinctive spirit added to the rich mix that makes up Bower Hill. One of my fondest wishes as a minister is to officiate at the wedding of a child I baptized. I’m not sure if it will happen. (People don’t marry as young as they used to, and when I retire, all bets are off.) This may sound odd to some, but I love working in a beautiful space like Bower Hill Church. I love sermon-writing…as long as I don’t put it off until Saturday night, which admittedly happens all too often. Writing sermons, and lessons, and prayers appeals to the failed English teacher in me…who, like many English teachers, is a bit of an unpublished novelist. I could happily measure out my life from Sunday to Sunday, Christmas to Christmas, sermon to sermon, baptism to baptism, with communion Sundays once a month to break up the routine… No future but next week’s lectionary. What a life!

But alas, a church—like any organization—must be about the additional task of planning for years to come. Many churches are loath to prepare for tomorrow until the sun is about to set on their today. They do not plan until the eleventh hour, and by then it’s often too late. They end up like me on some Saturday nights, scrambling to put together a sermon before cockcrow. Such is not the case for us! Bower Hill Church is thriving, growing, and doing well today, and so now is the time to prepare for the future that God holds for us. The old adage says, “Make hay while the sun shines.” As faithful stewards of all that God has entrusted to us, this is what we must do.

Where do you fit in at Bower Hill Church? What about our church makes you feel a sense of belonging or pride? Are there things that make you feel left out? Where do you see our church headed in the next ten years? Twenty? If you could describe our church in a single sentence—differentiating it from other churches—what would you say? What strengths define us? And since all strengths have their “shadow sides,” what are our weaknesses?

We are going to begin a series of church-wide conversations about questions like these. It’s not necessarily “change” that we’re looking for, but we do need to come together as a congregation and figure out ways to coalesce around our shared core ideals. These conversations will be fun, low-key, stress-free, and above all, multigenerational. The outcome will be a clear sense of identity and direction for the future, one that can be expressed in a single, succinct declaration of purpose. This statement will tell us and the world who we are and what we are about. It will be used to guide all our efforts in worship, education, fellowship, and evangelism.

These conversations are called “Talking about Tomorrow,” and the first one takes place on Sunday, February 26, at a brunch potluck during second hour. Childcare will be provided, but the youth and adult classes will be canceled so that all ages can participate in the conversation. This event will begin at 10:45 a.m. and end at 12:15 p.m. Please plan to attend, and don’t be surprised if I pester you until you agree to be there! We will need to know who is coming so that we can seat church members with people they probably do not know. See the bulletin board to sign up, or call the church office at 412-561-4114.

Talking about tomorrow is not a favorite thing for most people. It’s easier just to drift through today. But thinking ahead can also be enjoyable and enlightening. It’s an exciting time to be Bower Hill Church. Our yesterday has been blessed; our today is bright; our tomorrow is alive with God’s promise. It’s my joy to make this journey with you.


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