I’ve got another list for you. (Here’s last week’s, if you missed it.) As I wrap up my ministry with First Christian, here are ten of my favorite moments in the past ten years:
The time we had a meeting in the nursery. On one of my first visits to Greensboro – when we were all still trying to figure out if this would be a good fit – I met with some of the members of the search committee at the church so I could learn about the building. One of them suggested that we meet in the nursery so my daughter, who was barely a year old then, could play while we talked. That was the moment I knew I liked you.
The time we planted a garden. For several years, our garden ministry was a vital part of our congregation, and we spent Saturday mornings digging in the dirt. That garden generated lots of food for hungry people (and plenty of metaphors for preaching, too!).
The time we replaced our steeple. I remember the hacking sound of the old steeple being torn down, and then I remember standing in the parking lot with many of you as a giant crane lifted the new steeple and placed it carefully on top. I still think of that when the sun catches the steeple early on Sunday mornings.
The time we knocked down a wall. A year after we replaced the steeple, we knocked down the wall between the sanctuary and the old offices to create our Gathering Space. Can you even imagine Sunday mornings without that now?
The time we turned 100. Remember what a great celebration that was? From our kick off luncheon to the walk from downtown, to the party in the parking lot, to the big worship and lunch, it was such a delight to be part of that moment in your history. And well, it was just plain fun.
The time we raised more money than we thought we could. That new steeple, and the Gathering Space, and the boiler – that was all part of a very successful capital campaign that kicked off in 2010. We raised over $600,000 for those projects. Then, you stepped up again in 2017 and raised the balance of our Legacy Fund to $100,000 so the church can support ministry long into the future. Plus, you give regularly week in and week out because you know how important this church is. Your generosity and commitment is an inspiration to me.
The time you let me hold your babies. I’ve often said that baby dedications are my favorite part of the job, and it’s not just because the babies are cute (they are!). It’s that there’s something so powerful, so miraculous, about a community surrounding a family just starting to raise a child, and saying, you do not have to do this alone.
The time we said goodbye to people we love. I did a quick count: we’ve held over 50 funerals in the past ten years, most of them for people who were a huge part of the life of this church. Every time, I’ve been been floored by what an honor it is to help celebrate a life.
The time we sent new ministers out to serve the world. I am so proud of our internship program. As a congregation, you are phenomenal at turning young people who are kinda-sorta thinking about ministry into confident, capable pastors. Those folks are now doing ministry all over the country, from Colorado to Illinois to New York to North Carolina.
The time we became open and affirming. By the time we actually took the vote last year, it was kind of a formality, but it represented an important shift in our congregation that had been happening over several years. It wasn’t always easy, and there were some painful things along the way. But when we finally approved that statement, we said something important about what kind of church we are trying to be.
I could go on, but that’s ten. Thank you for these moments, and so many more.