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  • Erin Howard

A Bridge Forward

A Bridge Forward……



The creative in me loves when something beautiful comes out of a lot of different ideas joining together. Those of us who pour into planning the worship services at Edgemont UMC each week can attest that the main idea is roughly planned and the Holy Spirit works through each of our individual gifts to make sure that there is a thread woven throughout each service, each series, and this year from series to series as we strive to find our path forward.


I love serving with our worship ministry, and plan to do that as long as I am able because it feeds MY soul. It is what I need. And thankfully, somewhere along the way, God allows it to be what others may need as well. When I think about the church and its purpose though, I know it is not about what I need, but the ways we are showing God’s love to the world.


My past over-commitments to volunteer in church roles, the COVID-19 pandemic, stress at work, grief about not seeing as many familiar faces in attendance during services/events/both… and really just an overall shift that I do not have the words for have caused me to be VERY hesitant to volunteer or participate in any roles beyond the one I love, worship……. out of fear perhaps. I wonder if you can relate?


I cannot say I was overjoyed at the prospect of volunteering when an opportunity to participate in a not-so-creative program offered by the North Alabama Conference was presented. This program, offered to the leadership of various churches in the conference was going to mean giving up several hours each month to Zoom meetings…..with strangers….for the next 10 months.........beginning in AUGUST!?!?


What’s wrong with August? Well, that is the beginning of our big planning push for the large church holidays (think Advent, Lent, and Easter)..…and school is starting back…and 3-5 hours per month is a lot of time to commit to something new….and ….and….and….but I am going to be really honest with you right now, because we are friends, right? I will ALWAYS have an “and” that I can choose to use in order to remain right where I am and create nothing more than what I have already.

Because I knew I had something more to offer, I agreed to participate in the program called Ichnos. Ichnos is Greek for “footsteps forward; making tracks or a path.” The commitment to Ichnos has been invaluable because we have learned about different trends among churches, been coached on ways to ensure effectiveness in doing work as the church through effective leadership and engagement, and most notably and most discussed among our team the values and vision of our church. This surprised us mostly because we did not have solid answers for these as a church, which we should in order to move forward….. Or “make a path” for Edgemont. .


Around October of last year, Pastor Henry shared with our Ichnos group that the terms we had been tossing about in our meetings would be the Lent sermon series this year - Vibe, Values, and Vision. Friends, I am not going to pretend that I was not puzzled. Isn’t Lent supposed to be about deserts… temptations… repentance…giving up candy…...but instead we are going to do some visioning for our church?


Fancy.


Because I do not want to get ahead of myself, AND I am supposed to be creating a bridge moment here, I want to take a second to pause now that you have some background and give you a minute to reflect back on this most recent sermon series-” Flourish.” Pastor Henry has done an excellent job with this initial series of 2023, touching on key points to help us flourish as both individuals and together as a church. I especially appreciated the challenge to remember why I am grateful for someone when I have had a difficult interaction with them, as well as writing a note of gratitude to someone….. And actually sending it in the mail!

If you have missed any of the “Flourish” messages so far, click here. Pastor Henry also wrote a blog earlier this week about the conclusion of the “Flourish” series this coming Sunday. You can find the post here.


Now I hope by this point you are thinking, Erin, why all of these words?

I’m so very glad you asked!


It did not take long to see how the “Flourish” series cultivated a better understanding of what our lives can look like when nurtured well. As the series wraps this week and we approach Lent with a broader understanding, I hope you can see how the “Flourishing” sermon series informs our Lent series. Throughout Lent, we will explore both personal and church level characteristics of Vibes, Values, and Vision. How does our church feel? What do we value? Where are we going to further the Great Commission and show Christ to the world? When we answer these questions, and create a cohesive response, we are that much closer to flourishing. Additionally, we are working to offer take-home experiences to help you explore each of these sermon topics, as well as surveys to better inform our leadership team, who will be moving forward later this year in a formal visioning process.



Are you like me and the words of the second and/or third paragraph above are all too familiar?

The one ministry you love and adore is enough, even too much for you right now? You are not alone. Maybe you have been there, done that, served there, taught that already. You are not alone. Do you grieve for the Edgemont UMC of the past? You are not alone. Did the pandemic get you out of your regular routines and you just can’t get back on track with consistent participation in the life of the church, or on track with anything else for that matter? You are not alone. And we understand. Friends, I share these things with you so that you have a better understanding of the arc for our year to which Pastor Henry, the Ichnos and Worship teams, and the Leadership team are committed. Forward movement is necessary for Edgemont UMC and its people to flourish and thrive, and it would not be the same without you!


Please join us for our Lent season, starting with an Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday, February 22 at 6:00PM in the sanctuary. The following Sunday, February 26, we will begin this new adventure during Lent as we explore our own individual Vibes, Values, and Visions as well as the Vibe, Value, and Vision we see for Edgemont UMC.


Between now and then, begin to pray with us for our church, and ask God to prepare our hearts for the searching and reflection we are about to begin.


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