One of the foundational teachings of the early church is that followers of Christ were members of a new family. This is a significant change since up until that time, family really meant historical family of origin, tribe, clan. As people of all ages were baptized, there were times when this family of origin rejected them and so new families of believers were developed. People cared for one another and lived in new communities of faith. When the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy he calls him his beloved son even though they were not related to one another. In these new faith families there was strength and acceptance.
Our United Methodist Church still shows these significant understandings of family and community. When a person of any age is baptized, the congregation takes a vow to support them in their faith journey and renews their own vow to live their lives in Christ’s ways. Each time we do this, we add people to our family. Also in our United Methodist Tradition, when pastors itinerant, move from church to church, in their ministry, they know that they are moving to a new family location and will be blessed in this new extended family.
As a “Reconciling Congregation,” we here at West Springfield U.M.C. are also making a bold statement about family. We are acknowledging that we know the sacred worth of all individuals, and offer them acceptance into our family of faith. We are praying and working for the day when all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, will be recognized in roles of leadership and that their many gifts, graces and calls into ministry will be fully valued and used.
When I was twelve years old, I expressed my belief that God was calling me to be a minister. I am not sure that I had any real understanding of what that meant, but I knew I had a call. I was told many different things, but primarily that it was not a profession for women, and I was not college material, that the call I was experiencing was not real (at that time there were only two or three women clergy in our conference, today we are close to 50% of the clergy). But you see God’s call was real for me and I know that the call continues to invite me into the joy of serving God. There have been many times when I struggled to understand what that meant but I know with certainty that I have a family of faith behind me all the way.
This is a time of family. As I leave this family home, God will invite me into new adventures, new families, and you here at West Springfield United Methodist Church will begin new adventures in ministry with our new pastor The Rev. Bruce Arbour who is an Elder in the United Methodist Church. There are some changes ahead which mean that we will have to show how very mature our faith is. I believe change brings us great possibilities to explore our faith and ministry. Below there is a brief biography of Pastor Bruce, now you will have the joy of being in ministry with him and learning God’s ways together. As you go along, the church family will be blessed by the gifts and graces of each person who comes here. It is a great time to open the doors wide and say “Welcome to our Family!”
Blessings to All,