In community, we have been called by God to bring a word of hope and trust to the people of First Church, Pittsfield. We have been inspired by God’s grace to participate in the renewal of our own inner spiritual journey as well as the healing of our wider community, too. The time is upon us to lay anxiety aside and nourish a new vision born of God’s steadfast love. In truth, we are no longer a large and influential congregation. Rather, given both resources and personnel, this is our season for true humility and collaboration. As John the Baptist taught those who would later follow Jesus: Now is a time for me to decrease so that Christ may increase. In a similar fashion, our legacy in privilege and power has come to an end so that we might mature in servanthood and solidarity. Starting in 2017, therefore, we sense a renewed calling in four areas of mission and ministry:
· Strengthening our community of love and radical hospitality to be a resting place in a harsh and fearful culture.
· Celebrating God’s grace in worship through the arts, critical reflection and holistic contemplation.
· Renewing grassroots mission and fundraising for healing in God’s world in a manner that honors the realities of 21st century living.
· And sharing resources for pastoral care and acts of compassion that empower our laity.
This is an era for partnership, not control. Perhaps that is why it was necessary for me to "retire" - even as I serve a part-time ministry of transition - so that we might fully break from our past. I needed to experience the ending of one experience before starting another. I think the same is true for our church. To be sure, we must not forsake our history, but we can no longer afford to remain addicted to our past either. This is a new day. As Brian McLaren writes: let us become a 'school for love' in this strange and beautiful times.