A colleague of mine says if he could name a church, he’d call it “The Church of the Second Chance.” This is a name that resonates with me, too. And since the beginning of my time here at Windsor Community United Methodist Church, I’ve been seeing signs that this community could be such a congregation.
This is a community that welcomes those who are different.
This is a community that has made a way for those who are starting over to do so in a space of safety and support.
This is a community with a history of risk-taking, opening its doors and even moving to new locations — and doing so more than once — for the sake of spreading the gospel and welcoming others into the fold of God’s grace, regardless of where they come from.
I have heard the statistic quoted — and my years in ministry have tended to confirm this — that on any given Sunday, at least one-third of the people sitting in church pews across our country are experiencing a significant crisis: a major loss, financial troubles, a relationship in jeopardy, substance abuse, work or parenting issues, a frightening medical diagnosis and the like. At least one in three people is coming to worship to pray for healing or direction and to hear a word of hope. And it makes a difference when that hope is found, not only from the music and the words spoken in the pulpit, but also in the friendly smile or handshake or word of encouragement and welcome from those sitting in the pew nearby.
In my experience, it’s more accurate to say that everyone is broken. Everyone has a story of pain. Everyone has a past. No one is immune from trouble or sorrow.
I truly believe that God’s healing presence makes possible both coping and overcoming in times of trouble. Prayer makes a difference. Connecting with others on a similar spiritual path, and learning how we are “hard-wired” to unleash the gifts God has planted in us to bless the world, transforms individual lives and in turn makes a real difference in the lives we touch and an impact in the world at large. This is what life in Christian community means to me.
Because of God’s great love poured into our lives and our hearts, our task as people of faith is to bless our neighbors — not “convert” or “force” or “push,” but simply to bless them.
If being part of such a mission intrigues you, I invite you to join this community of faith — for worship, a small group, a hands-on helping project, or to simply pray for our efforts. We are eager to meet you.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Laurie McHugh
PS — Here’s another way to express it: UMC “Rethink Church” Video