Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Epworth's Transformation: More Than Surface Deep

   I never saw the Bill Murray comic classic Groundhog Day when it came out in 1993.  I was too busy not studying calculus. But, I am familiar with the folklore that says if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on February 2, then spring will come early and, if is it sunny, then we’ll have winter for six more weeks. Last month, Punxsutawney Phil predicted we would have a long winter. Of course, that is not great science, is it? You cannot predict the future weather for months out based on one day’s conditions.
   Last week, I was delighted to write a report on all of the new construction and renovation projects that Epworth has tackled in the past 54 weeks. The list is long, and the changes are dramatic. ROCON is waiting on the delivery of the final piece, new entrance doors to the Fellowship Hall, and that project will be complete. But, I also promised to report on the transformations happening at Epworth that are more than surface deep.
   First, let me revisit the groundhogs. I don’t think you can predict the future based on one day’s weather. Just like I don’t think you can speak to the Spirit-led transformation happening at Epworth without considering a variety of measures. So, here goes:
  • The transfer of the Hamp-Stephens funds last January made a huge impact on our Spirit. More than just allowing us to pay for the construction work, finally having the monies in hand freed up so many of our people from the sense of dread that the funds would somehow be lost to us. 
  • Our Vision Team that met from January to June of last year helped capture a clear mission: Epworth connects and equips all kinds of people to seek, serve and share Christ. People are learning and quoting this statement to each other and to folks outside our church. 
  • The Vision Team also laid out an ambitious goal of having 60% of our active people serving beyond the walls of our church in ministries in our community. I hear of people taking on new projects and passions all the time. This is the church being the church! 
  • Finally, I received feedback from our congregation in a survey I did on Epworth’s vision and our future. One of the questions asked, on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rank your confidence in the statement, “Epworth will be a thriving congregation in the year 2025.” The average answer came back as 7.5. 
Think about that last point. In a world that is changing so rapidly around us, our people nevertheless are very confident that Epworth will be here. I believe they are right and I believe that hope comes from the continuing work of the Holy Spirit to transform us. 
   Like the word of promise spoken by the prophet Ezekiel to God’s people countless generations ago, “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” I don’t think this is some silly tradition that is poorly predicting the future weather - I believe Epworth is positioned to continue seeking, serving and sharing Christ with the world. 
   Grace and Peace, Scott

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