A Message from Ellen
August 1, 2019
July 31, 2019
Sometimes when I drive around town and I see all of the churches in Columbia, I see that they are publicizing all sorts of events that, I assume, are intended to attract people to come to that church. Lots of the events are what we expect from churches: Vacation Bible School, a women’s conference or a Bible study. But then I increasingly see all sorts of odd events: Family Movie night – “Free Popcorn!” (as if they might charge for it?), or a Jazz music festival (cool, but), or Zumba (really? OK, but is that the most important thing to publicize?). It feels a little bit like churches are desperately throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if anything sticks. Church is changing so fast that no one really knows what churches will be “doing” in ten years from now, so there is a lot of experimenting going on.
And sometimes I wonder if the institution itself will survive. You know what I mean. There are days when worship is boring and the history of the place and the way we have always done things seems to be more important than figuring out a new way to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world. Now we have to think about active shooter drills and how to guard ourselves against internet security breaches. And everyone seems to be travelling so much that regular worship attendance seems to be moving towards once or twice a month. When we only see each other once a month it is hard to feel much sense of connectedness and community. So, sometimes when we show up it is simply the institution that is there. We feel an obligation and there is not much Holy Spirit or growth in discipleship that happens.
And then, sometimes, THE CHURCH shows up, and I get excited about the future again. This week THE CHURCH showed up at 6500 N. Trenholm Rd. Seventy-five elementary and middle-schoolers have been at FLPC this week from 9am until 4pm for our Peace Works Vacation Bible School. About half of that 75 are members of FLPC, the rest came from the community. The program has been led the collegiate staff of Camp Fellowship, the Christian Camp affiliated with our Presbytery and located in Greenwood, SC. The Camp sent some of their counselors to lead energizers and be small group leaders. And one of our own, Hartland Mershon, who preached for us on Youth Sunday and who is a Camp Fellowship Counselor this summer, has been leading energizers, singing, reading Scripture and riding herd on little elementary aged boys in a way that is nothing short of amazing! And, on top of that, so many of the members of FLPC have showed up to be CHURCH. Grandmothers and grandfathers, right alongside moms, dads and our own youth, showed up to cook lunch, lead crafts, hold hands, tie shoes, get bandaids and give hugs. Andrea Paschal, who is normally the steady hand on our educational programs, had to be at a family funeral in Florida, and so was not present for most of this week. I was really nervous about that. But her absence meant that our members showed up to fill the gap. And, it wasn’t just individuals who came to help. This week, THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST showed up.
Friends, as long as THE CHURCH keeps showing up, then I am excited about what God has planned for the future.
Ellen Fowler Skidmore