Discovering Identity as a Church

Thank you to all who participated in our first Discernment Gathering on Sunday, October 29th!  We definitely felt a new sense of “connectivity” as we found a shared sense of congregational identity.  When we began the conversation, Ensign Leininger said, “Can you hear the buzz? We need more of that!”  The buzz will continue on November 19th, so mark your calendar!

 

We began the gathering by taking time to reflect individually on what is important to us about the identity of Morgan Park Presbyterian Church.  We then exchanged ideas in groups and reported back the themes that percolated up during conversation.  Seven themes developed out of this process that we believe represent the current identity of our congregation.  These themes clustered around having a commitment to diversity.  I will outline these themes below:

 

Connectivity

Each group identified our church being family. That family expresses itself as a supportive and embracing community that provides consistency beyond our time together on Sunday mornings.  A key aspect of this connectivity is our many opportunities for fellowship that allow us to get to know one another.  Here are some reflections in this theme:

  • “We work together to solve problems.”
  • “There is a continuity of experience.”
  • “In this church I feel a family warmth of a group which tends to work together.”
  • “Home feeling – Acceptance”

 

Love and Support

Another theme that identifies this congregation as a family is that love and support are shared between members.  This goes beyond sharing in the good times.  We identified a “capacity for conflict,” which has allowed the church to stay together through disagreements.  Reflections include:

  • “Willingness to share both good and difficult situations”
  • “My husband and I raised two children [here]. All members are willing to help.”
  • “This is a caring congregation”
  • “Presence of welcoming and supportive members.”
  • “Love through hard times as well as good!”

 

Diversity

Everyone quickly identified diversity as a central theme for this congregation.  Maintaining this diversity definitely depends on a strong identity as a connected, loving and supportive community.  I learned how the congregation sees itself “growing and continuing a new thing.” We share this unique space as a diverse worshipping community, and we are still open enough to be working on what that means together.  Reflections include:

  • “I seek diversity in a church. We have it!”
  • “Developing friendships, being inspired by listening to stories of their journeys.”
  • “Being a positive environment”
  • “It is a place where God’s ultimate plan can be seen – the unity of people of all backgrounds, income groups, education and abilities come together for worship.”

 

Learning and Growing

There was a consensus that our church family celebrates opportunities to learn and grow in faith.  As a church with a diversity of experiences, there is much to learn from each other.  We desire to seek truth together – in scripture and in our world today.  These reflections captured this theme:

  • “Sincere interest in bible study. Knowledgeable and willing to share.”
  • “Source of Hope”
  • “Faith”

 

Commitment to Prayer

Many of us were pleasantly surprised when entering this church that prayer was such a constant presence in the life of the congregation. Prayer is communal, personal and worshipful.  Our prayer brings spiritual feeling to our worship and community events.  Our prayer has also been a way to connect individually through a practice of prayer partners.  Reflections included:

  • “Revealing Reflection”
  • “Spiritual mirror”
  • “We like to pray together.”

 

Spiritual Worship

Worship is the spiritual experience that brings all of us together each week.  We identify worship as spiritual, fulfilling, and responsive. Members feel worship is “quenching spiritual thirst.”  There is enough flexibility in worship for everyone to feel comfortable expressing their gratitude for God in their own way.

 

Feeling in Music

Music is an important way for our congregation to connect with God and each other.  While there is a strong tradition of classical hymns in worship, the diversity of music we have today touches many traditions.  Diversity and experimentation in music has been celebrated, and many identify a spiritual feeling as a signature part of our musical experience.  One reflection was “This church shows that it has a love for music.”

 

The Future of Discernment

Knowing that we are a diverse and supportive family congregation that is seeking to learn and grow together, we can continue in our discernment process with confidence.  We will gather again after worship on November 19th to reflect on how we can support each other as a congregation.  We will seek to identify our needs and the opportunities we have to serve each other as a church family.  All are invited!

 

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Ben

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