For everything, there is a season . . .
After the Vestry meeting on Monday, August 3, 2015, Pastor Tim Howe issued the following email to our newsletter list.
A long, long time ago, the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote this:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted.
As a church, Christ our Lord is entering the second half of these verses.
Before I go any further, let me say thank you to all of you who prayed during our called time of prayer and who completed a survey. Your input has helped make the path clear for the Servants Council.
The Servants Council and myself have met several times now to go over the surveys, to continue to pray and seek the Lord for His mind, and to consider the health and viability of the church for the future. We have also employed the good offices of Bishop Guernsey and Canon Tom Herrick from the diocese for their counsel and advice. They have both met with the Servants Council and I have spoken with both of them, too, as we pondered the future of the church.
The results of the surveys made it clear that there is very little energy left in the church to continue as we have been. Of the options before us, the largest single group told us we ought to close the church and release one another to pursue ministry and fellowship in other contexts. Only a couple folks expressed interest in pursuing a relaunch or a revitalization. This group is too small to be a viable option for going forward.
Thus, with profound sorrow for the necessity, but with grateful hearts for all that the Lord Jesus has done in and through the lives of so many touched by Christ our Lord Church, the Servants Council, with my concurrence, agreed that the time has come to close the church and cease public worship together.
Many of us have sensed for some time now that this is where we were headed. Many of us will struggle with our own grief at this loss. One common temptation we all need to strenuously avoid is pointing fingers and casting blame. This is the Enemyís tactic, not the Lordís. The long and short of it is this, the church has been in statistical decline for a long time (nearly 10 years) as people have moved away or switched to other worshiping communities. Each person or family that has done so has had their own reasons for doing so. We continue to entrust them to God and pray for His blessing on their life of faith.
Now, we need to pray for ourselves that the Lord will watch over us and bless us in our ongoing journey of faith, wherever that may lead us.
One encouragement to carry forth is that no matter where we go, the Lord has already touched us through the ministry of Christ our Lord Church. All the lives that He has touched through the ministry of the church continue to carry that blessing and will for all eternity.
Now, some practical matters.
The Servants Council has determined that Sunday, August 30 will be our last service of public worship. This Sunday will also be a day to celebrate the ministry of Christ our Lord Church and rejoice in all the things He has done through this church body. I must say that the list is impressive when you consider how many lives all over the world have been touched and blessed through the ministry of this church.
After church, we will hold a final potluck together in the Fellowship Hall to celebrate together and give thanks for Godís good hand of blessing. Let me encourage you, if you have a story to share of how the Lord has touched you or changed your life through this church, get it out and polish it up to share with everyone.
We also intend to invite as many former parishioners as possible to come and join us for that final service and celebration. If you have contact information for people whom you know were once a part of the church but are no longer, please forward that information to the church office so we can contact them and invite them to the celebration. (An email address would be the most useful.) Please do so expeditiously so we can send invitations as soon as possible.
The Servants Council will be meeting again next week to begin the process of closing out the churchís business affairs. This will take some time (probably a couple months) to handle all the legal and financial issues that will need to be addressed.
One word about finances, it would be a great help if you could continue your regular giving at least through the end of the month so we can responsibly handle our obligations to those on the payroll, to the Seventh Day Adventist church, and fulfill our promises to our missionaries. Thank you for doing so.
Please feel free to contact any of the Servants Council members with your questions or concerns. They will be happy to speak with you, as will I.
In the mean time, please know of my profound gratitude to all of you for your commitment to the church, your hard work, your prayers, and the love you have shown to one another and to me over this past year. It has been a great time of healing for me, personally, to be among you as your interim pastor, and I will forever be in your debt for the opportunity you gave me to be in ministry again. Thank you.
May the peace of the Lord be always with you,