It’s not just us. It seems like everyone I talk to is dealing with great changes in their lives, in their churches, and in the culture. We know the reality by now, attendance is down. Many of the faces that we have been used to seeing here for decades are not as available as they once were – many have gone home to the Lord. Yet still, our community has needs. There are hungry people, neighbors in need of a safe place, assistance, a listening ear, and people who care about them. How will we grow into the church that is needed now, and the one that will be needed in the future?
We have a great opportunity. With trust in the Holy Spirit, some imagination, and willingness to try new ideas, and some pain, we may get to live out the calling to love God and our neighbors here for many decades to come. Some of strengths are obvious; we have a building that is well used, a central location, and an accessible campus. We have good relationships in the community, we have welcome in our DNA, and we aren’t afraid to get involved. I can envision being a community still centered in worship and sacrament, and opening doors to a food pantry, educational opportunities, and building new partnerships for service and outreach.
We’re already doing some of this. In the months to come, we’ll be drilling down on setting goals and working toward them to be more strategic about how we tell the story of sharing the heart of Christ in the heart of the city. We’ll be working on intentional Gospel focused invitation to our neighbors. We have tools and experienced people here that can teach us. We can be a church that participates in ministry in new ways – online, with video and audio Bible studies – and old ways too – knocking on doors, showing up in the community, feeding people, caring for each other, growing our families together. I’m excited for what comes next. I hope you are too.
As we move forward, we remember those who have gone before us. We have said goodbye to dear members, including Betty Stroup. Please keep her husband Bob in your prayers. We have others dealing with a terminal diagnosis, many struggling to care for loved ones, and people grieving. We will find ways to accompany and support them. We have so many people in our neighborhood that long for work, housing, and dignity. We need strong partnerships with service providers, like LSSN and Family Promise, the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, The Center, Gender Justice, and an eye toward securing resources that can make a difference.
Our Joyful Harvest welcome bags will return soon – I hope to have them ready before Advent, and will need more volunteers to come deliver them in the neighborhood, and for folks to bring them to their own parts of the city.
Beginning in January, we’ll be starting a financial education course. Look for more information soon. In the new year, I’m hoping to start a new YouTube Bible study. I’d like to see us start a women’s ministry and send a team to the upcoming gathering for Women of the ELCA. I plan to offer training for members looking to participate in pastoral care and visitation, home communion visits, as well as worship assistants. We will have a new member class in the coming months. As part of our new strategic plan, we’ll be offering some concrete training for evangelism and outreach in our immediate area, and across the city.
We also have new partners in ministry here in our building! Satauro (Cross) Samoan Church will worship here Sunday afternoon and hold a choir practice Thursday evening. Some members are already volunteering at the senior meal program, and excited to bring a Luau to Reformation! Soon, we hope to welcome Iglesia Torre Fuerte (Strong Tower Seventh Day Adventist Church) on Fridays and Saturdays here. I’m looking forward to our own Advent midweek worship beginning Wednesday December 4th at 6pm with Holden Evening Prayer. We’ll be discussing the Apostles Creed as we again prepare to hear the story of the birth of our savior.
In the midst of joys, worries, and wondering, we know God is good, and is leading us in grace to love and serve our neighbors. As always, I give thanks for you here, for your leadership and participation, prayers, and gifts to support the ministry that we do together.