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Friday, December 18, 2015

Imagine's Chapter Two in Springfield?

I think it's helpful to see one's life journey in chapters.

After all, your life and mine are stories revealed in the flow of living from one moment  one day, one week, one month, one year, and one decade to the next until we breathe our last breath. If you've spent time looking back at your life's unfolding you can see the design of those chapters. Therefore, I think it's not too far a leap to envision the life of an organization as a design of chapters unfolding its life and work.

As some or maybe all of you know, our church imagine/Northampton moved to Springfield, Massachusetts in September. Prior, Tricia and I lived for a year in Shutesbury, a much-needed change and rest for us. When it became time to move and through series of gentle taps from God, Springfield was one of the options to choose from in our relocation. Some of you know it wasn't until three days before the moving van was to arrive to fetch all our worldly belongings did we know we'd be moving to 96 Byers Street.

We've now been here for almost 4 months. Chapter Two has had it's ups and downs:

Ups: We've been able to relocate our counseling ministry to 3 locations: Maple Ridge Community Church in Sunderland, Southwick Community Episcopal Church in Southwick, our home office in Springfield. We're profoundly grateful.

Downs: We lost some clients in moving from Northampton to Shutesbury, then from Shutesbury to Springfield. We have one car,  so scheduling Tricia's and my appointments has been tricky at times.

Ups: The church while very small has managed to stay together through all the moves.

Downs: We have not been able to settle into a groove with meeting together. We've met for fellowship in homes or going to events together, but not for worship.

Ups: There are possibilities for ministry galore, especially in the mixed-race neighborhood where we live (lot's of young families with little kids), and we're gradually extending the hand of friendship to folks.

Downs: We have no clear vision yet of how God wants our church to connect deeply with Springfield. We know we're supposed to be here, but the Holy Spirit hasn't revealed His strategic plan yet.

UpsIt's clear to us no matter how we move forward into 2016, we desire to be a multi-racial church with a multi-racial leadership. 

Downs: It's going to take a long time and win the trust of folks across the racial divide that we are serious about being a church serving everyone, no matter what racial or ethnic background someone is from.

Ups: We have the opportunity to join forces with and an existing Christian community in the city ministering for 13 years. We have much to learn from them.

Downs: There is no guarantee this will come to pass just yet.

From where I sit now, I recognize Chapter Two as a time of resettlement, praying, and discerning. This great city needs revival and we want to play a role in that along with other Christians dedicated to "freeing the captive, giving sight to the blind and proclaiming the year of the Lord's favor" before He returns.We want to be servants.