Since it is my congregation's 125th anniversary this year, we've had a series of celebrations. There was an outdoor worship service and picnic (that got totally rained on but was loads of fun nevertheless). There was a major mission giving campaign to support Chicago Theological Seminary and Common Hope. There was a bell cantata of spirituals and there will yet be a Bach Magnificat with a festival orchestra. We also celebrated the 25th ordination anniversary of our senior pastor; he was ordained during the 100th anniversary celebrations. At that service, Rich was presented with a real fragment of Plymouth Rock, which previously had been installed in the wall of the old CTS building. (The rock was presented by a couple from the church decked out head to toe in Puritan garb.) Last Sunday we rededicated the sanctuary using liturgy and music from the original 1929 service, and next month we are hosting an interfaith service to celebrate the relationship between the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths.
I laugh because our 125th anniversary celebrations are purportedly "low key".
But I also laugh out of sheer delight, because it truly is a great joy to celebrate such a wonderful congregation. I am a lucky duck to be their associate pastor.
In addition to the artifacts of greater historical significance, a number of interesting institutional bits and pieces have come up this year. I am utterly smitten with this sketch of the church from an earlier era:
I am moved by the ecumenical spirit: "The church has been cosmopolitan in spirit and life, broad in sympathy and tolerant in non-essentials."
I am stunned by the lovely writing: "Its centripetal force has been brotherly love, its centrifugal impulse, a desire to advance the Kingdom of Christ and save the lost."
I am heartened that many of the same wonderful traditions that nurtured me and continue to be part of my spiritual architecture - those enthusiastic Methodists and Bible-loving Baptists and spiritual Quakers and aesthetically unparalleled Episcopalians - are likewise woven into the tapestry of this lovely Congregational church.
And I am laughing until the cows come home about the inexplicable aggressiveness of the Disciples.
(Grr! Watch out! Disciples are known to bite!)