I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself,
if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received
from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Arrived back in Omaha ten days ago (September 16) after a very nice vacation break. Nice to be in Port Townsend again. Nice to feel caught up and reorganized on the home front. Port Townsend is beautiful in my eyes, and Mariana (also beautiful in my eyes) and I had some very special time with children, and friends, and taking walks. She will be joining me in Omaha on October 21, staying for the retreats, and then I’m glad we get to go back to Port Townsend for a couple of weeks in November.
I so appreciated our summer services. It was wonderful to hear (and see) Jonathan Gamble, Walter Massey, Cindy Dupuie, and Jon Gaylord. I was on vacation but TNC was going strong. Thanks also to Kip for technical support, and the always special support and coordination of Joey, who keeps us aware and running smoothly, at least insofar as we will pay attention.
Last Sunday (September 21) we were streaming our worship service again from the Chapel at Countryside Community Church in Omaha. Fall is in the air, and I am suddenly aware that our TNC Retreat will be upon us very quickly now (October 31 through November 2). It is not too late to decide to come. Just .
Speaking of our Retreat, it is close enough to traditional Stewardship time that we have set Covenant Sunday to November 2 (a week earlier than usual) so that we can all be considering our Covenants for 2015 over the next few weeks and then bring them with us to the Retreat to be dedicated. About half of those attending will be from the Countryside Church (which I am very happy about), but I’m sure they won’t mind if we take a minute or two at the Sunday worship service to dedicate our TNC Covenants. Anyone who cannot be physically present at the Retreat can email their Covenant to (who will print it) or regular mail it to me at Bruce Van Blair, 8787 Pacific Street, Omaha, NE 68114. If you get it to us before Friday, October 31, I will promise to have it on the altar for the dedication on Sunday, November 2.
Our Deacons will have further Covenant information to send to you in the meantime. The next combined meeting of the Diaconate and Board of Trustees is Monday, October 13, at 5:00PM Pacific Time (7PM Central, 8PM Eastern). You are all welcome to call in and join us for this meeting (605.475.4800, code 487327#). (This meeting appears on my calendar as “The Diatees,” which I like better than “The Trustacons.”)
If he hasn’t already, Kip will soon be sending all of you an update of our financial situation at this point in the 2014 season. That update, the Retreat, and any other concerns will form the agenda for the October meeting. I also have some agenda for that meeting and thought it might be okay to give a bit of a preview of it here.
My suspicion is that somewhere in our 2015 season it will become possible to move to visual Skype-type meetings (Disciple Bands, conversations following our worship service, board or committee meetings, etc.). Technology is already capable of this, but we didn’t want to get into the “technical support” business too early on. Now it will be good to see as well as hear each other as we go forward.
Speaking of “forward,” I sometimes wonder how many of us are eager and committed to the life of The New Church as a viable church for us, and as a model of church for increasing numbers of groups in the future. This has been my hope and dream (among others) from our inception. But sometimes I wonder if some of you are “holding back” or “waiting to see,” thinking that I am so old that it will all fold up pretty soon anyway. I know I am old, and I do resist some of the “fancy footwork” of other viable congregations. But I still believe that we have an incredible structure (streamlined bylaws and organization) and that we are trim in theology and faithful to Gospel and biblical understanding (and far beyond most churches in our time). The world – at least the Christian World – needs such things desperately, and needs them clear enough to stand without all the bells and whistles of current fads and entertainment gimmicks. So how long do we have to become truly viable? And is that likely to happen unless most of us become fully engaged and committed to our vision and purpose?
My crystal ball is pretty flawed these days, but it takes no great prophet to realize that we have maybe four to six years to get strong enough, clear enough, faithful enough, committed enough for The New Church to be ready to call its Second Pastor, and to move on into the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly secular society and an increasingly debilitated and uncertain “Christian Ethos.” With a casual/normal kind of support and caring, we will go on, do some good as we go, and then fade away – with no great sense of tragedy or loss. That’s okay if that is the Spirit’s will. Some of us don’t think it is. And of course some of us have been putting far more devotion and service and prayer into The New Church’s life and purpose all along.
Anyway, there it is – some of my agenda, that is. By the way, this agenda will not be part of our Retreat (in any overt way). But it may be part of our October 13 Diatees meeting, if you wish.