Jesus Has Left the Building, and We Are Following Him

Jesus Has Left the Building, and We Are Following Him

As part of our three-year covenant with Rev. Michael Caine, Old First as a congregation has made a commitment to finding new ways to take God’s message of love and forgiveness to the community around us.

We are now halfway through that three-year effort. Looking back, we can be proud of our accomplishments. Check the report on Revitalization elsewhere on this Web site to see our progress to date.

So now it’s time to look forward. Where is God calling us next?

The Revitalization Task Force is cooking up an idea that would involve the whole congregation in a Sunday event we’re calling “Jesus Has Left the Building, and We Are Following Him.” (Ok, we didn’t come up with the name; we stole it from a similar program run by Hope UCC in Naperville, Illinois. We don’t think they’ll mind!)

Our thinking is still in its infancy, so we’re coming to the congregation early in the hopes of receiving some ideas and feedback. Here’s the general outline of the idea:

  • We propose to set aside one Sunday, probably in 2012 or 2013, when we would suspend our regular Sunday schedule of Christian Education and worship. Instead, we would hold a day-long festival featuring an issue of importance to Old First that would appeal to a wide range of folks outside our congregation.
  • The planning would be a church-wide effort, involving all of us in the nuts and bolts of running a major event.
  • The event would include a variety of activities — fun, worshipful and uplifting — that would engage participants of all ages and abilities: art, music, dance, food, etc.
  • We anticipate starting the day with a worship service that would be held earlier than our typical weekly service, and would be focused on the theme of the festival.

We haven’t settled on a single idea for the theme yet, but here are the kernels of three possibilities that we’ve come up with so far:

  • Literature & Literacy Festival – A street fair for book lovers of all ages. Literature-themed activities. A used book sale. Children’s story time. Dramatic recreations of scenes from literature. Book illustrations. Fundraising to support libraries and literacy activities in Philadelphia.
  • Active Living and Healthy Eating Fair – A street festival to get people moving! Learn about obesity prevention, including how to eat right and make exercise part of your regular routine. Healthy eating demonstrations. Movement lessons. Tours of our urban farm. Canned food drive for our food cupboard. Nutrition counseling. Dance party.
  • Chalk Festival – We would engage a bunch of local artists to each plan a big mural (think Diego Rivera), all loosely connected to a common theme (room for all…peace & justice…creative differences). Then we’d raise money to buy enough chalk to create giant chalk paintings on the blocked-off streets around church. We’d invite the whole city to come together and draw, and suddenly all our diversity would be together on one street, down on the pavement coloring in the murals. Joy in cooperation and creativity.

Since this idea is still young, we would love input from the congregation. Do you have thoughts about this idea – either in general or any of the specifics? Would you like to help plan this event? Please speak to Pastor Michael.