Oct 2nd Congregational CommunicationNorth Burlington Churches united
This was read on Sunday September 25th at all of the North Burlington Group of Churches
Something that is known but seldom said, is that congregations are here for the long term.
Now, that is not to diminish at all the incredibly important work that our clergy play in the lives of our congregations. But, when you think of churches, seldom is there a church where the minister has been around as long as the congregation.
Imagine if you will what it would be like for a time travelling congregant to re-visit his or her congregation over the span of decades, even centuries. The change in that congregation over time would be almost impossible to comprehend. From year to year the changes would be imperceptible, but over 5 or 10 year intervals or even longer, imagine the differences. Take a moment and look around this congregation. The walls and pews might be the same, but the people are different, at one time the congregations grew, then shrank, maybe merged with another congregation somewhere along the line. We are older, fewer, and if we’re lucky there are new younger faces in the crowd. Somewhere along the line new hymnals arrived.
But through all those changes, there is one constant. There has always been a congregation. And that congregation has survived more changes and challenges over the years than we can begin to remember or even imagine.
What is it that holds a congregation together through those years, through all those changes?
In North Burlington, we have a number of United Churches with congregational histories stretching back a few decades as in the case of Tansley United Church, a half a century as in the case of St. Stephen United Church, and well over a century in the cases of Nelson United Church and Lowville United Church. St. Stephen and Tansley were both built on the edge of what was then fast growing Burlington, with surrounding fields quickly replaced by subdivisions. Nelson was built at the cross roads of two country lanes in the centre of a tiny rural community now all but gone. Lowville at the centre of a small village that still exists to this day. Congregants who came on foot and by horse & buggy from near by, have over time been replaced by congregants who in some cases drive from 50 kilometres away.
And yet through all this change, the congregations have continued.
And these congregations want to continue into the future.
For the last two years, members of our churches, along with our clergy, have been meeting to explore how our churches might work more closely together to continue doing God’s work in our communities. During this time, the councils and boards have been kept informed of our progress and have supported this process fully.
The Boards/Councils of the Nelson, Lowville, St. Stephen and Tansley have all agreed that it is time for the four churches to begin formally investigating how the congregations of these churches can come together to continue their work in a combined entity. No one knows yet what this will look like or how it will work. And no decisions have been made that have committed any one to a future course of action. Rather, we want to now formally involve all of the congregations in the process of beginning this journey of discovery for how we might all come together in the future.
To help us on this journey, we have asked the Edge Group from within the United Church of Canada to facilitate a process of engaging the congregations in an exploratory exercise.
At the centre of this process are the congregations. Only with input of the hopes and dreams of the congregations can we ensure that we can all take the best of each congregation to continue God’s work in our community. We are excited about this opportunity to explore our possible futures together, and look forward to everyone’s active participation in the process.
A Q & A will be made available to everyone in the congregations after the service, and your boards will be providing regular updates on the progress in the months to come.
North Burlington United Churches Q & A