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A Big Year

Posted by Rob McClellan on

1957 was a year full or remarkable events: British and French troops withdrew from the Suez. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was inaugurated for a second term. Iconic movie star Humphrey Bogart died at the age of 57. It was announced that cities such as New York would be protected by new atomic missiles. 100,000 gathered to hear Billy Graham, making it the largest gathering ever at Yankee Stadium. Nikita Khrushchev survived a coup attempt. Strom Thurmond famously filibustered the Civil Rights Act for 24 hours and 18 minutes. Troops were sent to integrate schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. Albert Camus won the Nobel Prize for his novels, and Jack Kerouac's On the Road was published. Sputnik was launched into outer space.

And, on June 5, Westminster Presbyterian Church was formed.

It may seem overly dramatic to place the birth of our church n such a context. Indeed upon reading the minutes from the first meeting of elders, the records show much smaller-scale developments. There's discussion of the formation of a kindergarten, the designation of the various committees of the church such as community outreach and evangelism. There is mention of a building program and participation in a salvage shop. Church officers are named.

To me, however, it's entirely appropriate to speak of the church within the larger story of our world. The church exists in the everydayness of life, yet that's precisely how it supports people who live among these grand events. Those who have been involved in leadership in the church know well about committees and planning, small tasks.

There is nothing small about the importance of these tasks for a community. It's the daily, tireless and often thankless work of volunteers, organizing and building a church that set the stage for people to make meaning and purpose out of their lives in this dramatic world. Church - its worship, classes, fellowship and interest groups, service programs, and public witness initiatives - provides the larger faith context with which to move through our world near and far.

As we approach our 60th anniversary, let us celebrate all that God has done through faithful women and men at westminster, those come and gone and those here right now. Perhaps you might stop reading right now to say a little prayer of thanks.

I will celebrate Westminster's 60th birthday in my sermon on June 4th, fittingly both Pentecost and the date of the annual picnic. In the fall, we will make our annual ingathering likewise celebration of this anniversary.

Times change and the stakes of the times are always high. At this important moment in history, let us examine what part each of us can play in being the church for this corner of God's world. let us be a witness to the resurrection by embodying Christ's way of compassion and justice, and let us consider anew how we can be a resource for those in our community and beyond seeking meaning, purpose, and place.

God's Peace, Rob


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