When I was a child, we frequently sang a hymn with these words:
The Church is not a building.
The Church is not a steeple.
The Church is not a resting place.
The Church is the people!
I am the Church.
You are the Church.
We are the Church - together.
All who follow Jesus, all around the world....
Yes! We’re the Church together.
Each day when I come into our church building, I give thanks for the people who constructed and maintained this building that we inhabit. Almost 160 years ago a group of missionaries from New England constructed our original building, which we still use each week for Taizé worship, Second Helping, fellowship hour, adult education and more. After fundraising and painstakingly constructing that original structure, a tornado came through about two weeks before the dedication of the new building and caused extensive damage. Much of the work had to be re-done and the founders desperately wrote to their friends and acquaintances back East to raise funds....again. Their supporters came through, and the building was dedicated in July of 1859, only six weeks later than they originally planned.
It’s so true that the Church is not a building or a steeple. The Church is US and all who are trying their best to follow Jesus, all around the world. Our ability to walk in the Way of Jesus is greatly assisted by this gathering space. Our building provides a place for us to worship, support one another, dream and plan, and learn together. It is also an important community center here in Manhattan. Every week we serve the community by hosting five 12-step groups, a community choir, a free community meal, free classes for people of all ages and more. Groups like MAPJ, AAUW, the MLK Committee, and other community organizations use our group on a regular basis. And, of course, we frequently host one-time events for those who are walking hand-in- hand with us as we try to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.”
I am so thankful when I think about the generosity of our congregation. We are a congregation that loves to have our building used by the community. Time and time again we say “yes!” to the many ways this space can be used to bring people together, creating and sustaining community. As we continue to Step Forward together, we have an opportunity to consider a one-time special gift to our congregation. Our Board of Trustees has generously given their time in the past 18 months to consider badly-needed updates to the flooring in Pioneer-Blachly, the kitchen, and the lobby and bathrooms near the kitchen. They have worked carefully with the expertise of local architects and contractors, prayerfullymaking decisions on our behalf. It is now time for the rest of us to boldly Step Forward together, providing the funds our congregation needs to update these spaces.
Click here to read an invitation from Moderator, Dave Smit, with details about how to make a donation or pledge. You can also follow along with our progress on the photos page.
What a blessing to be able to Be the Church together in this particular time and place, carrying forward the legacy of the cloud of witnesses who came before us, carefully stewarding this space for the generations that will come after us. Let’s Step Forward together!
- Pastor Caela