A Message from Our Moderator
The Gates of Hope, by Victoria Safford
Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of Hope—
Not the prudent gates of Optimism,
Which are somewhat narrower.
Not the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense;
Nor the strident gates of Self-Righteousness,
Which creak on shrill and angry hinges
Nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of
“Everything is gonna’ be all right.”
But a different, sometimes lonely place,
The place of truth-telling,
About your own soul first of all and its condition.
The place of resistance and defiance,
The piece of ground from which you see the world
Both as it is and as it could be
As it will be;
The place from which you glimpse not only struggle,
But the joy of the struggle.
And we stand there, beckoning and calling,
Telling people what we are seeing
Asking people what they see.
Since last Sunday, when I read this poem as the closing prayer at our Mid-Year meeting, I have been thinking about how we at First Congregational Church can “plant ourselves at the gates of Hope.” Our meeting was, in a way a mirror of this poem, navigating these different gates as we checked in about the state of our church and named both the celebrations and challenges that face our church and community. We heard the good news from our treasurer that we are on target with pledges and expenses. We named the crises of homelessness, mental illness, and substance use that many communities are facing and its impact on the partnership we have with Northwest Youth Services (NWYS) serving youth at the ground floor. We shared concerns about the new issues we are seeing here at the church, heard what has been done, and work that is in progress. We discussed the findings of the nominating committee and listened to ideas for moving towards a ministry culture to increase opportunities for congregational involvement in smaller projects. We celebrated that some boards were filled and made plans for those that were not. We honored Bert Miller as our first Ministry Area Coordinator (MAC) emeritus so that she could continue her valued work with us while taking care of her health. We also heard a beautiful vision of how we at First Congregational Church could take action to care for our planet read by Skyler G.
It is the second part of the poem, though that draws me in - the truth telling about our own soul and its condition. Starting at Lent and continuing during Pastor Sharon’s sabbatical, we have been engaging in various activities to help us with this collective truth telling. We have mirrored Pastor Sharon’s journey considering family, faith, and in July, history. Pastor Phiwa has led interactive listening sessions to help us discern how and if our values and beliefs are manifesting themselves in the work of the church. During Lent, we invited you to respond to questions about First Congregational Church: what makes it unique to you, what are the needs of our community, and what are we at First Congregational called to do? As we get closer to the time where we will draw the pieces of our work together, we want to share the responses received during Lent. The link below contains those individual responses. We will also work to identify themes and share those in a display. This is our time to beckon and call. What are you seeing? What are others seeing?
Contact the office to request the visioning responses.