March Message from Rev. Coplin
I hope these overdue words find you well! We are already beginning week three of Lent, which means that there are only four more Sundays between now and Easter. Things are beginning to buzz around here.
The Lenten journey continues: In Church tradition, this is a season of preparation, of contemplating our “proneness to wander” (to quote a favorite hymn), and to hope for new life promised in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a time in which many of us focus on prayer, fasting, self-examination of our priorities, and for searching Scripture. I am thankful to be on this journey with you. A couple of fun facts: though Lent is technically 40 days, there are actually 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. This is because Sundays are considered to be “little Easters.” Therefore, fasts are often set aside on Sundays during Lent in our tradition. Make of this what you will!
If you haven’t had time or opportunity to join us in the devotional reading or spiritual practices, there is still plenty of time! If you’ve missed a time or two, no worries. Don’t give up! We’re calling the current sermon series “Re-Soul.” Our time together in worship is being used to discuss how through the Holy Spirit, God breathes newness into our lives, which revives and reforms us from the inside out. However you are going about this Lenten journey, the idea is to make ourselves available to the formational work of the Holy Spirit, which is never easy but always worthwhile. If we stay the course, I am hopeful that when we arrive to Easter, we will see something about Jesus more clearly than we can now.
Holy Week and Easter Sunday: Holy Week is fast approaching and our Easter celebration is on April 9! Check the calendar for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and a special Good Friday guided devotional at the Prayer Labyrinth. Please consider who you would like to see in worship with us on Easter morning and extend them an invitation. The more the merrier!
Our upcoming decision: All necessary documentation required for calling a special Charge Conference was submitted last week to the Alexandria District office and then forwarded to the Louisiana Annual Conference for review. We expect that their review process will take a few days. When all checks out, they will alert the District office that we are all clear for Charge Conference, at which time the District office will assign us a date. We will then have a couple of weeks to alert our membership before we vote to either disaffiliate or to stay with the UMC for the time being. I will let you know soon after I receive word about scheduling. Thanks to all who have helped in this process.
Looking ahead: It is understandable that so much of our conversation, focus, and energy is spent on this one decision. The stakes are high for those of you who are so personally invested in the life of our community. Yet this is not the only vote that you make for the benefit of our church. Each time you attend worship or invite a friend, you make a vote for our wellbeing. Each time you help to lead an event, make a contribution to our budget, or participate in programming, you are making a vote for our mission. If you are voting for our church in this way, thank you! I absolutely stand by the belief that voting through prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness do more for our vitality than will denominational affiliation. No matter how this one particular vote goes, there will be an urgent need for healing and vision as our church enters its next chapter. I therefore encourage you to keep voting for the wellbeing and mission of this congregation until Charge Conference and beyond.
Grace and peace to you on the Lenten journey,