When I pulled up to the church early Friday morning, a smile immediately started to spread on my face. I had been away for over a week, and the transformation that had happened during that time was wonderful to behold. New colorful signs were put up in key places, and older deteriorating signs taken down. There were lovely flowers placed at entrances, along with fall pumpkins and hay bales (which I later learned were donated from the Farmer’s Market across the street where we have been handing out water through the summer). Trees and shrubs were trimmed back, and there was an air of welcoming, of readiness, and hospitality. We would be hosting Disciples from all over South Carolina – and other states, too! – that day for the first official day of the Regional Conference of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in South Carolina, and I was so proud of all the work that had been done by our congregation to make sure that we were ready to welcome them.
Of course that work was not done in just a week, but the signs, plants, and “sprucing” were only last minute touches to months of hard work. And, these physical efforts were not the only work that had been done. Hours of planning, of meal preparation and shopping, and prayer also went into the welcoming hospitality that we gave to our region.
The weekend was a blessed success. We heard inspiring and uplifting messages from our guests Rev. Michael Simmons, Rev. Alex Ruth, and Rev. Ron Degges (on Sunday), and were especially blessed by our keynote speaker, Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale, of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, GA. We worshipped together as a region, we learned about healthy ministry together, and we shared tables together. The Holy Spirit was there, and it will not soon be forgotten!
As we continue forward in our ministry together, we know that we have much to celebrate. The Regional Conference was not just a culmination of work, but also an event that lifted us up to inspire our future ministry. Not just an end, but a beautiful beginning.
As we move into our fall season, we come into a time of looking at the year passed so far, and making plans for the year coming ahead. We are identifying leaders of the congregation for 2017, and the dreams and visions that they will lead.
We are also preparing something new and thrilling for this fall season – a Stewardship Campaign that will celebrate our work of 2016, and ground our mission for 2017. After our Spirit-filled Regional Conference, and after the discussions and work of the New Beginnings small group studies, we are ready for this step of doing a campaign that will celebrate our ministry and ground it in our spirituality of financial stewardship. Watch for more details coming soon – you won’t want to miss it!
Peace be with you,