Friday, October 28, 2011

2011 Report to Charge Conference

2011 Report to the Charge Conference
Sharing My Vision for the Church

Every church is unique and blessed. Every church (like every person) is created for a unique purpose that fulfills God’s plan to transform lives. As your pastor, it has been my prayer that God would uncover the unique blessedness of Olivet so that we could transform disciples and thus transform the world through mission. The Bishops Call to Action became a useful tool in discernment. We looked at statistics from Mission InSite, a tool that provides demographic information tailored to our area. Our leaders examined the Call to Action materials and pondered the questions posed. I personally read over twenty years of charge conference documents.
But, it turns out, God’s vision for Olivet was in front of us all along, displayed creatively on a worship banner hanging in our sanctuary: “From Olivet, they followed.” Are these just the words from the Palm Sunday hymn “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna” which poetically describes the procession of Jesus into Jerusalem with crowds waving branches high in the air? Or is it more? I looked upon that banner one day and realized that it is more. It is a mission statement. It holds our identity.
Olivet in the Bible, like Olivet Church, was a place where people were renewed and strengthened in their faith journey. Olivet is where Moses, David, and even Jesus himself drew close to God in times of struggle. It is where the disciples received instruction from Jesus. Olivet (or Mount of Olives) was a unique place of retreat, renewal and discernment. But no one stayed seated in Olivet, it was always a place from which people departed in order to follow God’s call. From Olivet, they followed and so should we.
Many have shared with me how Olivet Church has been holy place on their faith journey. Olivet may be geographically off-the-beaten path but sometimes in life we need to take time off the path to reconnect with God in order to gain our strength and direction.
Historically, this church was built for the people of this neighborhood and her families. Her identity has always been tied in this way, yet over the years, that connection has lessened. The Call to Action identified how the leaders want to rekindle the positive connections the church had to being a central component of the neighborhood. The Church Hall and Good News Center, for instance, could become once again a place of connection for neighbors to meet, hold meetings, and share information.
My vision is that Olivet claim (or reclaim) our sacred understanding of who we are based on the biblical Mount of Olives and strive to live out the mission, “From Olivet, We Follow.” May we make decisions rooted in a balanced understanding Olivet’s retreat/renewal/nourishing aspect of ministry with the call to follow Jesus from this place into the world where God sends us. Our ministries should keep a balance of both components – the grace that changes us and the grace that sends us into ministry. From Olivet, we follow!

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