What a tremendous day we had on Sunday at JUMC!
The day began for us with worship at Round Hill Park (in nearby Elizabeth, PA). This was the first time we held our Sunday morning worship service outside of our church facilities, and it was great! Attendance exceeded our expectations...a full house in our rather large outdoor pavilion! It was a somewhat "contemporary" service in comparison to our usual traditional/blended service (actually, more of a "folk" thing than a "rock and roll" thing). I played guitar and we sang a variety of hymns and non-hymnal selections, preached, and focused on a very informal, conversational, celebratory tone. One young man said it was the first time he'd seen a pastor preach in a t-shirt and shorts!
After that great worship experience, we enjoyed our annual church picnic and had a phenomenal time. The weather was perfect, and the food was delicious. Volleyball...football...bingo...a friendly auction...lots of games for the kids, who also played in the nearby forest and playground...and great fellowship. What an afternoon we had!
Had the day ended there, it would have been a blessing. But, at 6 PM, we took part in a very special service that I believe will bear much fruit in our area.
One of the first things I did after arriving at JUMC is contact other area clergy in the hopes of forming a ministerium or some sort of cooperative ministry. It took a while, but last evening, 12 of 13 congregations in West Jefferson Hills School District gathered in the Thomas Jefferson High School auditorium for a "back to school" service of prayer and blessing. There we stood...Baptists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, United Methodists, and independents...praying with and for one another and for the upcoming school year. It was a moment filled with hope and "pregnant with possibility". Several in attendance shed tears of joy, not merely for the school prayers, but for the fact that the Christians were united. It was a true blessing.
If my sisters and brothers in ministry haven't made ecumenical activity a priority, I would urge them to do so. Surely, Jesus' prayer in John 17 is reason enough to actively work toward Christian unity, but the fruit can be among the sweetest we taste as clergy. I have been blessed by these activities in each of my parish appointments.
Finally, we returned home, got the kids ready for their first day of school (Hallelujah!), and watched the Steelers play...a fine end to a lovely day.
How blessed I am to be a part of JUMC. Such wonderful people. Such great opportunity for ministry. God is so very, very good.
Today, the kids went to school (see the "Hallelujah" above), and Robyn is experiencing her first day of work at Bravo at The Waterfront. We've been happy to sacrifice over time so that Robyn could be at home with the kids...and that's been 15 years. I've been blessed to have such a wonderful wife who is so committed as a mom. She's excited and anxious about re-entering the work force outside the home. I told her that if it doesn't work out, that's just fine. I ask for prayers for Robyn as she makes this transition.
Meanwhile, work continues on our education building. The framework for the new roof should be completed this week, with the rest to follow relatively quickly. The new windows and doors are about two weeks away, and the new corridor which will connect our education building to our church building will be the final piece of the puzzle. I'll try and post some pictures of the work in progress. What a mighty God we serve!