From Pastor Dave Dockweiler
A surprising highlight happened in my spiritual life a few weeks ago. As someone who is a bit fidgety, I find most synod assembly meetings to be a challenge. Usually synod assembly meetings represent hours in a chair, listening to multiple reports about parts of the church’s life that I am less than passionate about, this year was different. I had only been a part of one bishop election in Michigan before coming to New York. In Michigan I didn’t know any of the candidates and had only been in ministry for a couple of years, so I had little connections to the synod staff. Here in New York I knew two of the candidates and Pastor Paul, who went on to win the election, is probably the one pastor I know the best. I was overjoyed for him, and I can assure you, he is going to be a great bishop.
Bishop Elect Paul Egensteiner made one simple promise to the synod, that he would love us. In whatever expression that needs to take for each conversation and moment of leadership, he will begin with love. My heart just sort of melted, which is rare for a synod assembly event. He seems to hit the nail right on the head, which is why he got the calling to become our bishop, he gets it, and during his time as our elected leader he will be showing us through example on how to make love a reality.
I mentioned to Sarah, that having Pastor Paul be our Bishop, makes me want to be a better pastor. Let us continue to pray for Bishop Elect Paul Egensteiner, pray for our church and I ask your prayers for me also, being a pastor is not an easy job.
You are a wonderful people, a wonderful church because we have a wonderful God!
Our New Mission Statement
We have a new mission statement. “Inspiring change by following Jesus.” Our church council members have been working at this for a couple of months. I am so proud of the collaborative effort. We prayed about what God is doing through this place, we debated, and revised. I am so happy with the final product. “Inspiring change by following Jesus” is why this place exists, why this community meets and what we are set on doing.
INSPIRING The angels inspired the shepherds to run to see the new born Jesus, the Spirit inspired the disciples to march with purpose out of the upper room where they were hiding after the death of Jesus and throughout the ages people have been inspired to share their faith with others. Through this inspiration people have been moved with compassion and it is the fuel that moves the church. “Inspiring” also is a means of how we are to function. We don’t use fear to scare others into faith (we know that doesn’t work) we show them what God has done in our lives and we invite them to wonder about what God can do in theirs. Being inspired to do something new is invitational, just like Jesus.
CHANGE Something is out-of-whack in our world, in our communities and within ourselves. One of the founders of the church, the Apostle Paul, wrote that he doesn’t understand what he does, and he does the stuff he hates. Change is hard, it takes time and tons of effort to redirect our efforts at times. We read countless stories in the Bible of Jesus meeting people in the most random places of their lives and offering them something far better. Physical, spiritual and mental healing, reconnecting someone with their community, lifting those that have been ostracized by others-Jesus brings change and we welcome God’s changes in our lives.
BY Here is how this inspired change is going to happen. Spoiler alert, it isn’t because of what we do.
FOLLOWING Jesus asks his disciples to leave their comfort zones. They walked away from jobs, family, friends, a life that they knew-to follow Jesus into one where they didn’t know much, except for the Rabbi. “Following” admits that we don’t know exactly where we are headed or how to get there. It is an act of humble worship and great trust to allow Jesus to lead our community and our lives.
JESUS Our leader, our rabbi, the one who has come into our lives and invited us into something greater. God’s dreams are better then our own, God’s vision for our lives is far more colorful and fun than we could imagine, so come join us in following our amazing God into a world we hardly knew existed.
Well that’s all good and nice, but how do we actually do it? There are three values that we uplift which will make our missional goal a reality.
First, we “worship to deepen our connections.” Using the cross itself as an example, we worship to connect with God (the vertical) and we worship alongside each other to connect with one another (the horizontal). If our worship doesn’t bring us closer to God or others, than we are doing something wrong.
Secondly, we value “education to challenge our understanding of God.” Growth always means some level of discomfort, and we welcome the challenge of seeing God in new ways. We need to push ourselves to see God in places and faces that we would have overlooked without becoming aware.
Lastly, we do what Jesus did. “Service with others to change the world.” Jesus often brought people into his miracles to change the world around them. Changing the world is a big job but doing so means that we begin with God changing our world. We invite God into our lives to give us a glimpse of what God is up to, and what we are being invited into and we join together to get to work making God’s kingdom show up on earth.