December 8, 2019 will be a day that will go down in the history books for the congregation of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Penryn, PA.
While I know that church and religion is not everyone’s thing this day in age, I sincerely hope that you will continue to read this post because I’m incredibly excited to share what made yesterday such a monumental moment.
I’ve been a member of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Penryn since 1995…which is crazy. That is 24 years. It is quite amazing how quick the time flies.
I’m pretty sure that I’ve been the Music Director since 2009; however, don’t quote me on that because I’m not very good with dates. I might need my Mama Welliver to officially fact check that for me!
Even in the 24 years I’ve been a member, I’ve seen the church go through a lot of change–mostly different Pastors and leaders that caused some difficulty for stability and growth.
And through these changes, there were even discussions of closing our doors–something that had every member of the congregation feeling emotional.
Then, in September of 2017, we had the opportunity to be the guinea pig congregation for something new that the Synod was “trial and erroring” and were paired up with a seminary student, Angie Hammer.
It was our saving grace–the answer to our prayers. The stability that we had been looking for to help with our growth and showing others in the community that we are here and ready to share our God given talents with everyone. And as we move forward in our convenant agreement with Angie that will occur over the next 3 years, the excitement inside my soul only grows.
Angie has challenged us to look inside ourselves and to really think about how we can each use our talents to encourage growth, love, and kindness within our church family and all people that visit to share in our worship experience.
And amongst all that has been happening in these past two years with Angie, one of the conversations that our congregation started to explore was something that we call “Reconciling in Christ.”
The Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Program is for congregations, synods, colleges, seminaries, and other Lutheran organizations and ministry communities who have made a public commitment to welcome, include an celebrate people of all walks of live regardless of sexuality orientation and identity, mental ability, social status, religion, or ethnicity.
Today, December 8, 2019, our faithful church in the small town of Penryn was moved by the Holy Spirit and did something amazing.
The following is the public declaration that we made as the faith community of St. Paul:
“As a Reconciled in Christ Congregation, Saint Paul Lutheran Church, Penryn, welcomes ALL God’s people, embracing differences of age, race, ethnicity, physical or mental abilities, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or economic status. We recognize that we are all children of God, whose differences are Reconciled in Christ.”
While this may sound like a simple sentence, it is so much more than that. It is something that makes me so emotional inside with unwavering faith and joy.
As the congregation prepared their ballots for voting, I sat in the front pew with baited breath waiting for the results and praying that this congregation would be prepared to move forward.
And when Glenn walked to the microphone to announce that 92% had voted in favor of becoming a Reconciling in Christ church, I cried. I sat there in the front pew and cried like a baby. There were lots of tears shed and hugs. I’ve never seen Vicar Angie cry…but today I witnessed those tears.
We are welcoming to ALL.
We are welcoming to ALL regardless of what they are going through in their lives.
We are welcoming to ALL regardless of the darkness that they may be experiencing in their lives.
We, at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Penryn, are welcoming to ALL.
As you read this, I realize that it might not seem like a lot to you; however, it is a HUGE monumental moment for our church and the community around us.
There are no ELCA Lutheran churches in Lancaster County that are Reconciling in Christ. The closest one is Middletown.
So, here’s to new possibilities and a future full of love, kindness, and open arms to everyone.
If you are someone or know someone who is struggling and is looking for a church home to worship freely and feel the spirit and be welcome with open arms, come to St. Paul, Penryn.
ALL. ARE. WELCOME.
Sprinkle sunshine always,