It takes the village to be the village

candleringOne of my pet peeves is people not leaving a space the way they found it. It doesn’t irritate me enough to lose sleep, still… That can be a problem when you work in a place like FBCPA with a large variety of members, renters and visitors. You want to be a good host and neighbor to everyone who uses the space. Because we only have custodial service a couple of times a week, we try to stress this principle with everyone who spends time here – please leave the space the way you found it, so that others can make use of it and enjoy it after you. It’s a good principle to practice in any space in which a community gathers, in any space that’s shared among multiple groups and activities. In a large sense we want people to work together to make it a good environment for all of us. It’s akin to that old adage that “It takes a village…”

That is, it takes the village to be the village. It takes all of us pulling together to be a community. This is true for everyone who gathers in this space, but it’s especially true for those of us who claim to be FBCPA. It takes every one of us, young and old, to create this unique and wonderful church community. And it’s not just the space and how we maintain it that is the source of our communal spirit. It’s how we work together and play together, worship together and care together, learn together and share together across the board that makes this a good place to be.

In particular, we have been graced by some wonderful leadership over the years, both lay and professional. But no one of us or even one small group of us can do it all for the rest of us. I am beyond grateful for those who have led us in the seven years I have been pastor. Some of those folk have held their positions for the entire time I’ve been here and some even longer. That is dedication, folks! But more than that, I can’t help but feel that these leaders love this place and this community with a deep and lasting love. Born of that love, they have taken on a very special commitment to seeing that we continue and, beyond that, that we thrive.

What I am wondering is if there are some others of us who might consider taking on more of a leadership role with the congregation. Remember, it takes all of us pulling together to be us. I know there are people concerned about what will happen when any one of our leadership group is no longer able to take on their task or just plain needs a break. Through the gift of God’s amazing grace so far people have come forward when needed to make sure that all the essentials and many of the extras of our congregational life have been cared for. Is there something more or something different you might contribute to our ongoing life, to enrich and carry forward our life together?

There has been some discussion of doing another “Time and Talent Survey” as part of our stewardship emphasis this Fall. It would be good to know that there are folk willing to take on what is needed to keep us keeping on for the foreseeable future. Elsewhere in this Spire I know that our intern, Naomi, has made a suggestion about cultivating a Worship Team. We would always be grateful for more Worship leaders, readers, choir members and others who would help plan and share in worship. We could use more folk to help with chores and projects around the building. We could use more people involved
in our educational offerings for children, youth and adults. We could use some more folk to help with hospitality and décor. We could use more assistance with congregational care. We could use more help managing our finances.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about or chiding anyone in our congregation. I am well aware that you give generously of your resources – financial, time and talent ‐ for the good of the community and I am truly grateful for all that you give in whatever way. However, as we consider renewal, we are in constant conversation about how we can sustain and build on this wonderful community as we move into God’s future. God needs all of us to be FBCPA. So I invite you to consider carefully and prayerfully whether or not there is something more or something different or something new you might give to our life together. Remember, it takes all of us to keep the space nice and usable, yes – but more importantly to be us – a church whose mission is to worship God, to explore faith and commitment to Christ, to serve those in need, to provide a home for heart, soul and mind – together in the name of the One who binds our community in love.

Thanks be to God for each and every one of you and thanks to you for considering this with me.
Pastor Rick

Celebrating the World

ABC missionaries
International Ministries missionaries Dan and Sarah Chetti, Dan and Sharon Buttry

This month of October begins something of a journey outward as we celebrate World Communion Sunday and take our annual World Mission Offering.  Sunday you are invited to wear something from your native country or a country you have visited as we acknowledge our common bond with Christians all around the world.  The music, liturgy and décor will reflect this multicultural emphasis.  And it is particularly significant for us as we continue to claim our identity as a multicultural congregation.

The World Mission Offering not only supports the work of the American Baptist Board of International Ministries as a whole, we also share the money raised between our two special interest missionaries.  Dan and Sarah Chetti do remarkable work both in the Arab Theological Seminary in Beirut and in ministry to the women who are brought to Lebanon to serve as domestic workers.  Dan (and now Sharon) Buttry travel all over the world, planting and nurturing the seeds of peace in conflict-ridden situations.  (Read more about the work of the Chettis and Dan and Sharon Buttry on the International Ministries site.)

The worship focus for Sunday is taken from an old hymn we used to sing, “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations.”  I assume we have stopped singing that hymn because of its overtones of an arrogant kind of Christianity that many of us have struggled to let go of and leave behind.  Modern missionaries very much see themselves as partners with those they serve.  The wisdom of the West is not automatically superior to the rich resources and traditions of people from other parts of the world.  Still, when Ann and Adoniram Judson left Massachusetts in 1813, headed for the Indian subcontinent, they believed with all their hearts they had a story to tell.  What was the essence of that story for which they were willing to risk their lives?  Do we have a story to tell today?  What is it?  How do we share it? What, if anything, are we willing to risk for it?

Please join us at 10:00 AM on Sunday.  Bring along a family member, friend, colleague, neighbor or stranger to share in worship; then, stay for Adult Spiritual Formation when Pastor Tripp will lead us in the second of a series, this week featuring a video of Brian McLaren and a discussion of the question, “If you ask me, ‘Is God real?’ I first have to ask you, ‘Which God are we talking about?'”

May God’s new thing flourish within us and among us.

Pastor Rick

October Mission Offering

World Mission OfferingAmerican Baptist Foreign Mission Society (operating as International Ministries (IM) began its pioneer mission work approximately 200 years ago in Burma and today works in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. More than 100 full-time missionaries along with short-term missionaries and mission partners serve in more than 70 countries. Its central mission is to help people come to faith in Jesus, grow in their relationship with God and change their worlds through the power of the Spirit.

This year’s theme is Embrace the Cause and our goal for the offering is $1,000.

September Mission Offering Update (10/2)

Inn Vision Shelter NetworkSeptember’s Special Mission Offering is for InnVision and the Opportunity Services Center. The center functions as a service to the wider community by providing a creative response to home-less related problems and offering opportunities for the community to respond to those needs. Its highest concern is to provide a positive and caring environment that respects the dignity of every person.

To date we have received $610 toward our goal of $600. Congratulations!

September Mission Offering Update (9/25)

Inn Vision Shelter NetworkSeptember’s Special Mission Offering is for InnVision and the Opportunity Services Center. The center functions as a service to the wider community by providing a creative response to home-less related problems and offering opportunities for the community to respond to those needs. Its highest concern is to provide a positive and caring environment that respects the dignity of every person.

To date we have received $580 toward our goal of $600.

Prayer call for Nicaragua Missionaries

Bonilla family
Carlos and Mayra Bonilla and family, trainers in Nicaragua

Prayer Call by Bob Santilli (BIM ABC-USA) September 25, 2013 for Carlos Bonilla and Mayra Giovanetti, helping train leaders and showing the reality of God’s love and mercy in Nicaragua.

Carlos and Mayra are working with the Baptist Theological Seminary in Nicaragua, accompanying them in the program of informal theological education in the churches of the Baptist Convention of Nicaragua and as writers of curriculum material for the Seminary. They seek each day to show others God’s love and mercy, as a reality.

Please pray for:

•  Wisdom and discernment as we sit to write the curriculum materials for the Seminary.

•  Continued health as we continue our ministry in Nicaragua.
•  Our itinerary this second semester, combination of Seminary and visits to the churches for  workshops and sharing the Word.