Monday, June 30, 2008

A Prayer for a Little Church?

"ALMIGHTY God, whose compassions fail not, and whose loving-kindness reacheth unto the world’s end; We give thee humble thanks for opening heathen lands to the light of thy truth; for making paths in the deep waters and highways in the desert; and for planting thy Church in all the earth. Grant, we beseech thee, unto us thy servants, that with lively faith we may labour abundantly to make known to all men thy blessed gift of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Our little mission church is potentially at a crossroads. As I posted earlier, we lost a goodly portion of our congregation when some of our families moved to far-away locales. Now we found out that we will no longer be able to meet in the school where we've been meeting the last two years. The principal left a note on the door for us this Sunday, saying that some parents and some members of the board of trustees didn't want us meeting there anymore. We suspect - though we have no concrete evidence, only compelling circumstantial evidence - that the members of the local Episcopal Church are the ones behind the action. How sad is that??

Our other issue, of course, is two-fold: where do we meet starting August 1, and what kind of location should we be seeking? Some members argue for us to purchase land and build. Others want to buy a small house or a church for sale. And others (myself included) favor a storefront rental, or a storefront rent-to-own situation. My hubby is on the vestry - he and I believe we don't really have the money in the building fund for an outright purchase, and it would be poor stewardship to squander what we do have on a purchase we might not be able to maintain. Also, a house out in the country (where the cheap ones with land usually are found) are not very visible to the community. On the other hand, a rental situation might cost a bit more every month, but the owners would be responsible for any die-hard building problems. And we'd be in a business area where there's lots more traffic, with more people to see us and hopefully stop by to check us out.

I suppose this suprise by the school board is not all bad. We were pretty complacent using their facilities, and not really motivated to start the long discussions about where to "set up shop." I can only pray that God's hand is on this, to shake us into action and get us off our duffs. As with anything, change is never fun, but if it's what we're meant to do then we can't complain (too much, anyway!) ::grin::

So, to quote Shakespeare, "we few, we happy few" must decide what to do together - and just like in the larger communion, sacrifices must be made by each of us. Yeah, sure - I want stained glass and an organ, but is that a good decision at this time? Probably not. But having somewhere we can set up our altar and our chairs and not have to move them after church, we can all agree that is a Good Thing!

So anyway, pray for us. Pray for solid words of guidance from our priest, and that God would lay a clear direction and path for us. And for all of us, pray that God will move in our hearts to seek the best for our church, this little part of the Body of Christ.

Storefront rentals are WAY out of our price range, we've discovered. Wow. But we've found a possible option - it's an old farmhouse on 3 acres. The owner is willing to be the lienholder, and perhaps set up a rent-to-own situation with a discount/lower price/tax write off because we're a church. By removing a wall we could have a space for a small sanctuary. Still, it needs lots of "sweat equity," which inevitably requires money as well. So more prayers for clear direction and a firm commitment from all of us. The vestry will meet in two weeks to decide what to do.

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