Someone asked me the other day how we can measure strength in a church and I remarked that sometimes it’s tricky – we often can ―feel it but sometimes it’s hard to quantify and measure. And because we’re human, we are always in process, never finished, despite our best intentions and efforts. Yet we can feel the joy bubbling up here at UPC, can’t we? This is a happy, purposeful church with a lot of different things going on. Lots of moving parts.
Most churches want to stand on four strong pillars: worship, mission, fellowship/pastoral care and study of the Bible, with an organizational structure that serves the mission of the church. Post WWII, many churches got into serving church structure rather than having the structure serve the church. We have flipped into structure serving mission and ministry here. It took a lot of hard work to do it.
We have a passion for worship here and it’s the one event the majority of us have in common. Our volunteer effort that has been poured out this summer on worship is a witness to the investment so many have made here of being part of the solution, part of what makes UPC the energetic community it is.
And didn’t we have a grand time on Sunday, July 28th? How good to have Faith in Action back, with clarity in its structure, drawing together all ages and abilities to be the hands of God in Peoria. Kudos to our Missions committee leading us to express care in concrete ways both near and far.
The organizational restructuring done with Pastor Patricia for the Board of Deacons and now in its third year of practice finds our connections being strengthened more and more as the 27 deacons and the faith community nurse lead us in ministries of compassion. And the FUN committee (aka Church Life) brings fun into our life together at every turn.
While baking with the preschoolers this spring, I was immersed in the learning environment that saturates the preschool. The emphasis on dreaming/imagining an idea, transforming the idea into action and sustaining what works has meant a steady deepening and building up of the school these first 8 years. We started with one classroom, twenty children, two teachers. We added variety: afternoon programs, before and after care, a toddler room and suddenly 2019 became the time to consider a new shared classroom space. If you run up to 201 today, it’s hard to remember how dirty and underutilized it was just 5 months ago. The strength and growth in our preschool is now being carried over to CE. Every time we experience Godly play in our morning worship, we have a taste of what our preschoolers have for up to seven hours each day. Since this spring, we have more folks on the CE committee, a summer experiment going with worship, the youth group rebuilding, a mission trip to plan and new adult offerings in September.
UPC is following the Apostle Paul’s advice:
God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth, and tell it in love – like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16, The Message)
Congratulations for all these robust signs of life in your midst!