Thursday, March 21, 2013

Come & See

Inside the sanctuary of McKendree-Simms-Brookland

In a recent set of essays published in The Connection, a variety of pastors reflect on the mission and vision of the conference to make disciples of Jesus Christ. I encourage you to read them as you will discover many insights and ideas about what it means to be the church. In my essay, I suggested that the Church’s task is not to make disciples, but to invite people to experience the living-reality of the Risen Lord. The power of invitational discipleship is that Jesus himself enters our relationships and sends us into our culture as disciples.
In the last months, I have extended a simple invitation for our church to know Jesus better by entering into a cross-cultural, mission relationship with McKendree-Simms-Brookland United Methodist Church in DC. (pictured at left and above)
Our churches are very different. While Olivet sits at the quiet cross section of two country roads – McKendree is on the busy intersection of South Dakota and Rhode Island Avenues. One sanctuary has woodwork – the other ornate stonework. 
McKendree-Simms-Brookland Church in Washington DC
McKendree is known for it’s pipe organ – Olivet is known for worship with dulcimers and stringed instruments.  While we differ in our expression and geographical location -  we are suprisingly alike.
We have the same red pew cushions, UM hymnals, and a love for fellowship meals! We are also alike in that both churches have seen decades of membership decline and struggled to adapt to the changing population around us. Yet, we both have experienced new growth and vitality in the last years. 
Hospitality is the heart of the biblical witness. To welcome the stranger is to “entertain angels unaware”. Jesus himself comes to the disciples as a stranger, surprising us in the breaking of bread and sharing of a meal. As hosts to our DC guests, the blessing will be the suprising way Jesus shows up in these times together.
Since the beginning of the year, several of us have visited the people of McKendree Simms Brookland Church  In January, our youth groups met each other for the first time during lunch at the ROCK retreat in Ocean City. Our lay leader Bob Evans and church secretary Bonnie Chaffee also visited over a meal. Read what these folks are saying about their experiences.
"I felt like I was home, they were so open and welcoming. They practically waited on us hand and foot during lunch. With their meal ministry, they have fed over 6,000 people since January! They are getting ready for us to stay there - offering us a beautiful 4 bedroom parsonage and getting it all ready for us!" Bonnie Chaffee
"Having lived near there in Brookland and worked near there for Old Towne Trolley I was interested to see things I hadn't experienced in Northeast DC before. I enjoyed the fellowship of the meel, meeting the pastor and his wife. I especially like what Reverend David said that Nobody Here Will Go Hungry, referring to the meal ministry." Bob Evans 
  In the biblical account of the call of Nathaniel, Philip gave up persuasion and finally just said to the skeptical Nathaniel, “Come and See.” I will not try to persuade you to know the benefit of being on a mission trip, taking time to visit another ministry setting or explain the value of getting to know a fellow Christian. I will just simply say to you Come and See. 
Enter into this relationship with McKendree-Brookland-Simms in your personal way. Our next road trip Wednesday, April 24. You may decide to become part of the overnight mission work from June 24-28th. Or perhaps you will want to help host the group that comes to Olivet July 28 – Aug 1. We will be signing people up to help teach the kids fishing, crabbing, and more.

"Come and see" and be suprised how Jesus himself will appear in our midst. 

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