“Everything old is new again”

It seems like this saying might just apply when it comes to programmatic ministries at some of the United Church of Christ congregations in the area.   And the “old” may really make some wonderful ministries “new” as a result.

Periodically, through the course of the history of Faith Church, I’m told the congregation worked together with some of the other smaller UCC congregations in the area.  A pastor’s been shared with other congregations.  Joint confirmation classes were held so the youth of Confirmation age at these congregations could attend class with other kids, instead of going “solo” through this ministry.  Also, periodically, the congregations have decided to venture out on their own, answering God’s call in ways that are uniquely their own.

As the Church journeys through this time of transition in its centuries’ old life, local congregations like

Faith, may find it difficult to maintain or grow some ministries.  Church rolls might change.  A congregation might become “gray-er” or perhaps a youth movement flourishes as young families become a part of the church.  The changes might result in important and faithful ministries falling by the wayside.

But might there be some avenues of ministries that might thrive if congregations of similar size to Faith joined together in ministry?  Could ministries be revitalized or initiated, if congregations pooled resources—people, staff, and the like?

That’s the question I recently asked of colleagues at New Horizon UCC, St. John’s UCC Slinger and Hartford; New Hope UCC, Salem UCC.  Rev. Jim Hill, Rev. Jim Schleif, Rev. Dave Schlieter and I decided to think on and talk about the ways the congregations could serve together in answer to God’s call.  We met twice in October, and thought that we should first look at possibilities for working together in the following areas of ministry —

Mission Trips                           Homeless/Hunger Ministries                                       Vacation Bible School

Christmas Caroling                 Habitat for Humanity of Washington & Dodge Counties

In this ministry model, each congregation maintains its’ own identity while joining in ministry with brothers and sisters in nearby congregations.  We’ll work to meet in central locations, or we’ll round robin the gatherings, depending on the ministry in which we’re engaged.

Our initial thought is that working together for Christ has great possibilities for all the congregations and for the area.  We’re encouraged in this initial effort, and are pretty certain that this ministry together might just be a “God thing” that’s God-inspired and community enriching.

Christmas Caroling at St. Joe’s, Kathy Hospice and Cedar Community is the first UCC Partners ministry in which we’ll join together.   December 9 is the date.  Specifics about the event will be forthcoming.  Singing the wonderful songs of Christmas seems like a great way for everyone to engage in ministry while getting to know other members of congregations around this area.

This partnership is a promising one, I believe.  My prayer is for God’s blessing on these efforts, so his work might be done and his children served.  Further, my prayer is that we’ll join in these projects and gatherings so that the ties that bind us to other United Church brothers and sisters will be strengthened through serving in Jesus’ name.