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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Possibilities before Problems

Most of the work I do with churches centres around perceived problems -- numbers declining, finances uncertain,  Boards not working, staff and leaders stressed out.

We can become so focused on our problems and deficits, though, that we don't see the good things that are happening.

So I want to feature good news stories from Waterloo Presbytery to remind us that it's not all doom and gloom.

On June 11, I was honoured to be one of the "dignitaries" at the Grand Re-Opening of the newly renovated facilities at Trillium United Church in Cambridge. It has been ten years since the tthree United Churches in Preston -- Zion, St. Andrew's and St. Paul's -- amalgamated, and there is a sense of excitement about the future.

The renovations were designed to make an old building accessible to those with mobility issues. But what really struck me about yesterday was the sense that building renovations were part of a much larger vision of ministry.

Mark Rutledge, the minister at Trillium, talked about the moment when the penny dropped, and they were able to see accessibility as an aspect of the radical hospitality of the Gospel. Making it possible for anyone to use the facilities is one expression of the larger desire to create a culture of inclusion.

So, part of Trillium's commitment to accessibility has led to changes in worship and language. They have worked to remove the "churchy jargon" from the way they present themselves. They have tried to become more aware of the unseen barriers that keep people separated, not just from the building, but from the Gospel.

I know from talking to Mark and other leaders that Trillium struggles with many of the challenges shared by most, if not all, United Church congregations. Their vision of ministry is still very much a work in progress.

But I'd like to hold up Trillium as one example of how a technical problem (getting people in and out of the building) has been viewed as part of a larger commitment to ministry.

That's good news!

If you have something happening at your church that you're excited about, and that you'd like others to know about, send it to me at