I have been in church life for 6 decades and so I confess to you that I am a bit intimidated by the significance of the events of this month. When I really thought about it, and contemplated the significance of the 50th Anniversary of the creation of this church, I felt somewhat overwhelmed and inadequate.
Maybe I was overthinking it, but I know that churches are made up of ordinary humans – whose faith can soar and then dwindle, and who can get tired; and churches can have ministers who can be cranky or discouraged; and together, so many of the people, members and ministers – who live life with its changes, challenges and losses.
So I am in awe of those who pulled this off 50 years ago, because I know how hard it must have been, back in 1963 and 64, to get agreement and work out details and then complete the dream.
And I am in awe of the loyal faithful people who were dedicated to the task through the 70s, paying off a huge mortgage, expanding the membership, all to help this place grow to be one of the great congregations in the United Church of Canada.
And I am in awe of the people who endured and hung in and kept going through some hard years in the 80s and early 90s. Many of them were here when I arrived.
I tell you now that I miss some of them.
They’re gone. And I miss them.
And I feel tremendous awe and gratitude to the people, many of you, who allowed us to launch some new directions after ’96, and the way so many people, again — many of you, who stepped in and stepped up at just the right time to empower worship that is diverse, and children’s ministries that are warm and exciting, and more and more missions that stretch and sacrifice.
And so when I step back and reflect on all this, I ponder the question — How did they do it? How could all those groups of people across 5 decades, have made this church what it is. Amazing.
Only God. That’s the answer. Only God could have done this. And each of us, in our day, in our generation – we acknowledge that it was and is the Living God revealed in Jesus Christ, who called this people forth, and shaped us and carried us through all that has been and all that will be.
So at this time of our 50th Anniversary, above all the many people we can acknowledge and the many things we can say, there is really this – Thanks Be To God. Now and Forever. AMEN.
With love, ORVILLE