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September 8, 2019, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents


The fall of 2001 was a heady time for Christian Temple.

On Labor Day weekend we were basking in the afterglow of a recent ‘all hands on deck’ production of Godspell. We were preparing for our first sabbatical time to begin the following Sunday, during which I would be away for two months while the esteemed Bill Howland, formerly of National City Christian Church, would serve as our pastor. “The Ponderosa”, a prequel to the hit TV Western, “Bonanza” starring my little nephew, Drew Powell, premiered on September 9th! And the annual Bethany Beach retreat was only two weeks away.

Then, Tuesday, September 11th happened and several narratives began. There was the national one we were all suffering through. Locally, one of our own families lost a dear lifelong friend when Flight 93 went down in the mountains of central Pennsylvania. Pastor and congregation were separated at a terrible time by the planned sabbatical and the over 800 miles between Baltimore and St. Louis. And, while we didn’t know it yet, esophageal cancer was metastasizing inside the bigger than life body of one our most active church members. These events were all braided together when Doug Welch received his cancer diagnosis right around the time that the congregation hosted the memorial service for Lizzie Wainio presided over by Jayna Powell while her husband broke sabbatical protocol by working in the kitchen for the reception.

Wow! And the stories from those months just kept coming. And we’ve told those stories. And we’ve loved those stories. And those stories say a lot about who we were all those years ago, and who we are still.

But, as we begin our new program this year the same way we’ve begun our program every year since the 9-11 attacks- with a day of service- we need to keep this in mind: vital congregations are those that celebrate their past but not for too long. As important as these eighteen year old stories- and all the other ones we enjoy around here- are, newcomers are attracted to the body of Christ more by the opportunity to create new stories than by remembering the old ones. As a congregation that has very recently received recognition for being open and inclusive, we need to remember that spending too much time telling the old stories- even the really good ones- will always exclude those who didn’t live through them.

So, here’s to a new year filled with responding to the world’s violence with acts of justice and compassion; nurturing God’s children in the faith; offering ministry to those who are sick and grieving; and celebrating the presence of Jesus Christ whenever we gather!

Welcome to worship!


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