See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19
Did you know that Calvary Church is, through its roots, the oldest Presbyterian congregation in the state of Connecticut? It’s true! This year marks the 175th anniversary of the founding of the First Presbyterian Church of Thompsonville in 1839. It was the merger of First Church and the United Presbyterian Church (founded 1845) which formed Calvary Presbyterian Church in 1972.
We will be holding an event to commemorate this milestone later this Fall. It will be a time to remember God’s goodness and to celebrate his faithfulness and favor over 175 years. But as important as it is to remember the past, it is essential to look to the future. The world has changed radically since 1839, and continues to do so at an almost dizzying pace. If Calvary Church is to continue to effectively minister the grace and love of Jesus in Enfield we must avoid the trap of remaining stuck in the old and look to the “new thing” God desires to do in us and through us.
Since January of this year, the elders and staff have been working with Vision New England and the Praxis Center For Church Development in a process to discern God’s direction for Calvary’s future. We believe, that in a very real way, the “new” is simply going back to the “old”. It is recovering an intentional focus on the core of what the church has always been about: Loving God…Loving Others…Making Disciples. This “Irreducible Core” has been the focus of much of my preaching over the past six months, and will continue to be so. The elders and staff have also engaged in study, discussion and prayer about these concepts as they apply to Calvary Church.
During the next few months we will be taking the following steps. In early June we will be using the Natural Church Development survey to take the pulse of our congregation. 30 members of Calvary Church will be asked to take a survey assessing 8 areas of church health. The survey, along with two follow-up groups, will help us understand our strengths as a congregation and the challenges we may need to address. This data will be available to the Calvary Church leadership in early July. After Labor Day we will work with a consultant from Vision New England to establish a strategic pathway to guide us in moving forward.
This does not mean that everything we know and love about Calvary Church is suddenly going to change. God is at work in and through this congregation and there are many good and fruitful ministries which will undoubtedly continue. What we are looking at is beginning a process through which the “life flow” of Jesus (Love God, Love Others, Make Disciples) and the values of God’s Kingdom increasingly become the core of everything that we do and everything we are.
What will this look like is 5 years? I have no idea! But I do know that as we seek the mind of Jesus, pray for direction, and step out in obedience, God will unfold his purpose for us. I also know IT WILL BE GOOD! As we remain connected to Jesus, constant in prayer and open to the Spirit’s leading, God is going to do great work in our midst.
During this quartoseptcentennial year, may we not only celebrate our past, but also be a people who celebrate and claim God’s future.
Grace and Peace,