Do you remember us? You know, Greendale People's Church? Worcester, Massachusetts, United States of America in YOUR world? We came together in YOUR service in 1895. Since then, Lord, quite a lot has happened. As our neighborhood grew, so did we, both in terms of congregational size and service to YOU. Locally, regionally, nationally and internationally we have tried to faithfully follow YOUR will to follow the teachings of YOUR Son, Jesus Christ.
The first 70 years could be described as preparing the way for ministry fulfillment. Pastoral leadership and congregational commitment through stewardship of time, talent and treasure allowed us to expand both the building and the programs to meet congregational and program demand and was rebuilt after significant destruction due to a horrific tornado in 1953. We humbly thank YOU for all you have provided.
By the middle of the 1960’s our congregation had grown to over 1,000. We were instrumental in serving the greater Worcester area by providing high quality, low cost elder-care and modern handicapped accessible living spaces in the central core of our city. YOU had blessed us with the vision and capability to acquire a peaceful place on a pond not far away named Selah where we could be closer to YOU through quieter contemplation and reflection in a natural setting. The next 20 years went along well with a stable congregational census and adequate resources to meet the demands of the ministry.
Then things began to change; slowly at first, almost imperceptibly to most. The congregation began to shrink rather than grow. Still a very busy place with lots of work to do but with fewer people to do the work and less money to pay the bills. Pastoral transitions accelerated. Long serving Pastors retired. We had to learn how to search and call new leadership. Some of the new leaders came and left rather quickly. We revised our by-laws to become more effective in our lay leadership. We had to learn how to accept new ways of doing things. Being taught by new pastors, even women pastors!!! This was hard, uncomfortable stuff to go through. Why can’t we just go back to the way things were?
We have been praying to YOU to increase our congregation. Are you listening? We are holding our own and not losing as many as we were but certainly not growing significantly. How will we survive? Should we downsize? Should we merge with another church? Should we just go out of business? Please Lord, help us. We are frightened! Are you listening? Do you remember us?
Dear Greendale Peoples Church,
How could you think that I do not remember you? YOU are my children whom I greatly love. I called you to MY service in 1895; a small band of mostly Scandinavian Christians from a variety of denominations who found themselves drawn to the Greendale area of Worcester by the growing opportunities for skilled work in the manufacturing and technology sectors which were beginning to take hold at the time.
You answered MY call and built ME a church just up the hill. I gave you the gift of Mr. Sleeper who with YOUR help got that job done in a little more than a year and with no mortgage! I wish I could remember how he did that. I am sure it had something to do with his and YOUR faith.
I also gave you the gift of freedom from denominational boundaries and restrictions. Great freedom brings responsibility and demands the ability to think and act with wisdom and compassion. I knew YOU could do it.
The Greendale population grew and so did OUR church. Additions were built, space and staff were added, missions expanded as YOU worked hard to serve MY Kingdom. Good job! You have consistently kept the faith even when faced with catastrophes like tornados that nearly swept it all away.
And YOU think I haven’t noticed. Like I have not been paying attention.
I have sent you a series of faithful Pastors to guide and teach you. Each with different skills and abilities, but all with deep faith and commitment to MY work being done through YOU from OUR headquarters here in Greendale. Some stayed for a long time and some have been needed elsewhere in MY service. Indeed, some have been called home because their work on earth was finished. But all have played a huge part in OUR work together and will continue to do so. YOUR current pastor has come to challenge YOU, inspire YOU and teach YOU how to continue to be active Christians who are no-longer non-denominational or multi-denominational but rather post denominational (beyond the need for denominational control or influence). YOU should listen to her. I know that I do.
I have given you foundational families with names such as White, Copeland, Allen, Schofield, Marsden, Wilmot, Dunham, Adlerz, Sanders, Fair, Jewers, Sundquist and Grayson to name just a few. Their commitment, along with others unnamed literally span generations. The kind of rocks upon which to build a strong church. New family foundation blocks have been arriving with names such as Pare, Galbraith, Tran, Cimato, True, Wasliewski, Raphael, Converse with many more to come.
YOU have been feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, housing the homeless and so much more over the years WE have been together. I tell YOU that I am well pleased! Please keep up the good work!
YOU asked for ME for help in restoring YOUR congregation. I reminded you that it is MY congregation. And I have sent you two whole new churches to fill OUR space and provide a base for all of US to grow. They are a lot like you were 122 years ago. Please teach them how to serve ME the way YOU have.
In closing, MY dear children, please believe ME that I love YOU very much and will never forget YOU and will always protect YOU. I need YOU. YOU are not finished with MY work. I wish I could say it will be easy. But I can say that it will be worth it.
KEEP THE FAITH!!! (Thank you very much to the author of this post for sharing your thoughts, struggles, and prayers for GPC.
If you would like to submit a reflection that may be added to the website, please email Justus@greendalepeopleschurch.org - Justus)