“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
This may be hard to believe, but this Sunday, September 11, will mark exactly a year since we returned to having two in-person worship services each Sunday. Though we returned to live worship services four months or so before that, and we did have to shut down for a few weeks in January of this year, it has been a long, slow process to adapt to the new normal of post-pandemic church. Churches worldwide are reeling from the effects of Covid, and even those who remained open during the pandemic are seeing attendance numbers at a fraction of what they were leading up to March 2020. Park Hill Christian Church is no exception. However, I am happy to say that our attendance numbers for August 28 were the highest we have seen since reopening (excluding Mother’s Day and Easter). While we are still behind where we were pre-pandemic, it is heartening to see so many people returning to church and to see visitors starting to come through our doors again.
It is no secret that PHCC is in a transitional phase during this time, and while things may look and feel a little different on Sunday morning than what you may be used to, the spirit of family that has always been a staple of this church is thriving. There is an aura of excitement and revitalization that can be felt with each meeting of our various ministries and each conversation that happens before and after worship. Sure, we are currently without a senior minister and the search seems to be dragging on, but remember, we are a lay-lead church. It is the leadership that comes from our congregation that has always made PHCC great. Now that we are coming out of a two-year hibernation, the willingness to serve is growing and new ideas are flourishing. Our Chi Rho and Christian Youth Fellowship groups are thriving under the leadership of their volunteers, the Outreach Ministry is feeding more people in our community each week than in the history of our church, the Membership Ministry has even brought back our long-awaited Fellowship Dinners, and I know that I am not the only one looking forward to some great food prepared by our PHCC Chefs on September 18. And that are just a few of the great things that are happening at PHCC.
So, Welcome Home, PHCC. Welcome back to church as you remember it. Maybe not the same elements of Communion that you are used to, maybe not the same people in the pulpit that you are used to, but welcome back to a family that loves like no other – a family that takes care of each other as Christ commands us.
But don’t get too comfortable just yet! There is still plenty of work to do and plenty of folks to reach. Depression and anxiety are at an all-time high and church attendance worldwide is at an all-time low. As a church family, we have been so very blessed by God to be able to keep going and keep up with each other, but there are many, many people out there who are feeling lost, disoriented, dejected, and hurt. Some of them even hurt by their own churches and families. We are a nation divided on every topic imaginable with thousands of people who feel that the Church is part of the problem, and it is our responsibility to show them the truth. The truth that Jesus is Lord of everyone, and that Jesus, himself, took special care of the oppressed, the sick, the rejects, and he commanded us to do the same. So, let’s not just welcome those who are familiar to us, those we have known for years or even decades; let’s welcome all those who are wandering, who are lonely, who feel like they have been abandoned by the Church. Let’s show them the love that Christ has shown us over and over again.
And to those of you who have not quite made it back into the building or may have found a new church to call home, that is OK. We understand. We still love you and consider you part of our family. But after our Labor Holiday, many, many more families will be making their way back into the Christian Family Life Center and Sanctuary, and that sounds like a great excuse to join them. While you are at it, bring a friend!
In Christ’s Love,
Minister Logan J. Smith