In my time as a pastor, the churches I have served had a varied approach concerning their Church history. One church celebrated their history every single year with a special Sunday in the Fall dedicated to remembering. On that Sunday we would honor any member who had been a member for 50 years, and did special projects. I still have the mug they made from their 125th anniversary. They loved celebrating their history.
The other church where I served as pastor for 13 years, only celebrated the big years (years that have a 0 at the end). This is very similar to Trinity Tower. Interesting to note, their Charter Sunday was held two weeks before Trinity Tower’s date, so they also turn 60 this year. Their approach to their history was very low key, acknowledging charter members and telling stories of the “old boiler problems in the farmhouse we started meeting in.”
As I reflect on celebrating anniversaries for churches, I note with some pondering of what does such celebrations mean? I have to say I loved the first approach with a history acknowledgement each year. It was a fun time remembering and hearing the stories. But I also note, that church is no longer around having been closed a few years ago. (After I left the numbers began to dwindle, and then some other factors occurred. So while the church building still stands, it is now an outpost for creative ministries of a different sort.) So as I ponder that reality. It reminds me that history is special and good memories, but we must continue to consider the call of God for serving into the future as well. Times change, needs change, and ministries must keep pace with what God call us to be and do.
Interesting, as I read the church history for Trinity Tower, we were envisioned to be a new church started as a Methodist Presence in the area of Penn Hills and Plum. This was the goal of the Methodist Foundation which is centered in downtown Pittsburgh. They recognized the movement of the population to the suburbs in the 1950s and there was no Methodist Church in that region. (Some of you may think, but what about Holiday Park UMC and Laketon Heights UMC? The answer is that those churches were E.U.B. denomination churches which became United Methodist in 1968. In 1968, we also went from Methodist Episcopal to United Methodist.) I bring this point up because we still are called to be a regional church that meets the needs of the many communities around our church building. Our call to serve God has not changed. We are in a unique position to meet people and connect them with a relationship with God. We must be true to our calling, otherwise our history is merely some good memory, but we are called to be more.
As our purpose statement notes it: We Exist to Love God and Call People to Make a Difference in our World.
So this month, let’s remember and celebrate our past. But more importantly, may we seek to go where God leads us, so we can be a blessing, making a difference in our world now and into the future.