Shepherding Our Dedication to Outreach

Shepherding Our Dedication to Outreach

I don’t know what everyone else did over this past weekend, but I went sledding. I had slept over at the church the past two weekends, so I decided not to go in and help on Saturday morning.

I felt comfortable doing this because a whole team of Old Firsters braved snowpocalyptic conditions to ensure that our Saturday Breakfast ministry went as scheduled – Beth Walker, Ian McCurry, John Owens, Michael Caine and others. We didn’t have many guests brave the snow, but most of our Shelter guests stayed around and helped out with the morning. Keisha Pruitt, the head cook, dropped off the cooked breakfast on Friday because she knew she would not be able to drive down on Saturday morning. As someone mentioned on Facebook, even the Post Office closed. No doubt, Old First is dedicated to our Saturday Breakfast and our Outreach ministries.

Obviously, I am incredibly grateful to the wonderful folks who stepped up to help. I am continually impressed by all the ways that Old Firsters support Outreach, like April Smith’s help on the incredibly successful Clothing Drive at the Mariposa Food Co-op, like the half dozen people who have dropped off casseroles in the past few weeks, like the now eight people who serve as Saturday Coordinator or Shelter Dinner hosts. Thank you!

But more than that, our dedication this past weekend has me thinking about our upcoming Annual Meeting. Old First has some big questions in front of it. How can we connect our desires for the future with our current reality? How will we balance our desires for a beautiful worship space, a hospitable building and grounds, and continued outreach ministries? How can we, or must we, steward our historical building? What new Outreach possibilities can we envision? (providing transitional housing, moving to a year-round shelter, a youth drop-in center, permanent housing for elderly homeless people, who knows)

Over the past six months, I’ve had some wonderful conversations with members of Old First who have been around longer than me. I’ve heard a consistent thread that may serve as a balance to our anxiety about money, and specifically some of the anxiety we have about our Outreach ministries. In the past, as we have changed our programs, it is often a small group of dedicated people who have driven Old First forward. Rarely has our entire congregation gotten deeply involved in Outreach, but it has always remained a core part of who we are.

As we consider the big questions about church finances and the proposal by the Renewal Committee, remember that what helps in part to make our church a church is the dedication to service and community that we see on Saturday mornings and in Shelter dinners. What decisions will help us increase our sense of community and our dedication to service? How can we steward our buildings and our other resources to support our worship, our hospitality, and also our continued Outreach work?

– John Bergen, Outreach Minister