Tuesday, October 28, 2008

75th Anniversary Party

It was a wonderful evening at the Pompeii on Sunday, a big family reunion spent connecting with old friends, remembering memories of the church, enjoying good music and eating good food. Many thanks to the Anniversary Team for all their hard work putting this together. Thanks to all the local merchants who contributed to our raffle. Thanks to everyone who came. Thanks to Elina for taking on the role of photographer. A slide show of some of her pictures is below.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Crop Walk 2008

We hit the pathways of Baldwin Park on Saturday for the annual South Nassau CROP Walk to benefit Church World Service and the Long Island Council of Churches Food Pantry in Freeport. Thanks to everyone who walked. Here are some pictures.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Reflections from Mission Sunday - II

In planning Mission Sunday, I spent a lot of time talking with senior citizens in our community. Initially we planned to send teams only to the houses of senior citizens in our congregation; but they either wanted to be at church to make blankets or "had everything under control." So I secured an invitation to drop in on the Malverne Seniors Club, which meets at Village Hall every Thursday. A few observations:

  • Anyone interested in developing a snow shoveling business would find plenty of work. Snow removal is the number one task that seniors expressed a desire for help with around their house. Many lamented the passing of a time when groups of teens would come around after snow storms and offer to shovel.
  • Many of the seniors were skeptical about our offer of free help on a specific day. What they really wanted was someone they could call with small household related needs whom they knew to be honest and affordable.
  • Help filling out forms and paperwork around property tax discounts, medicare, and other paper-heavy transactions was as needed as assistance with household chores.
  • As our society becomes more cash based and increasingly individualistic, many people struggle with receiving free assistance from strangers. The Mission Sunday projects were designed to be neighborly, not charity. We were not seeking those who could not help themselves, who could not pay or who had no other options. We were merely seeking to provide a friendly smile, some youthful energy and a little help around the house. Yet I sensed that to many, to accept help would be to accept charity, and that went against their grain. I wonder if we would have gotten a different response if we called the day a fundraiser and charged.

Reflections from Mission Sunday

Last Sunday, October 5th, was Mission Sunday. When I was a kid, Mission Sunday usually involved having a guest speaker who was a missionary and taking a special offering. Thanks to our Hands On Mission Team, we decided to put our faith into action by exchanging sitting in the sanctuary listening to Pastor Fritz for going out and practicing our faith through mission projects in the community.

I went with a group of people to take church to one of our members who has found it increasingly difficult to come to church. What a joy it was to see him singing along to This is the Day, and joining us in prayer. Elina came with us and gave voice to a piano which, while a fixture in his living room, had not been played since his wife died. We then played several games of bingo, with the only prize being the pleasure of bring joy, prayers and company to one person's life.

A second team went and helped a neighbor with odd jobs around her house. The crew washed windows and removed an air conditioner for winter and helped us all remember a time when neighborliness was not confused with charity.

A third group stayed at the church and turned large swaths of Polartek into blankets. When finished we will take the blankets to a battered womens' shelter or somewhere else where they are needed.

As we reconvened over pizza afterwards, spirits were high. It was good to be outside of the building, working among our neighbors and sharing our faith through our hands, our footsteps and our smiles. Unfortunately, nobody took any pictures - so you'll just have to imagine.