As we prepare to celebrate Pentecost, we also celebrate the 10th anniversary of All Pilgrims Christian Church. From the earthquake rattled First Christian Church (DOC) of Seattle and Pilgrim Congregational (UCC) came the merged church today that is All Pilgrims. Pentecost is a wonderful time for such a joining together to be a new creation in a new way. At the time of the birth of the Church is birthed a new expression of it on Broadway in Seattle.
As the followers of Jesus were encountered by the Spirit to transform and move them outward, they experienced a time of new beginning. They were transformed by the Spirit, called out with a mission that pointed them forward with faithful passion and responsibility, moving from fear to courage, loss to gain, lethargy to movement and momentum. As they considered an end while still in a place of loss, the end of the life of one they’d followed and maybe the end of their movement, they were gifted with a new beginning and the gain of new life by the Spirit. They were to become his body as a community of faithful. They had a mission!
One of the things that most stands out for me about this part of our faith story is how the followers of Jesus were courageous enough to move by faith. Imagine all the reasons to live with caution, to be tied by fear, to fill the room with warning; yet, they go. Confidently, with purpose and meaning, running into threats and conflicts, they go and faithfully persevere as they co-partner with God. They are made stronger, they become leaders, where they once faltered now they stand as teachers and models, and the Gospel love and grace of God is expressed, the Church spreads, and here we are, nearly two-thousand years later.
At All Pilgrims, we are a people with a grand past. We have a story from two congregational streams that have flowed into one. Ten years, now, All Pilgrims has been its own church expression. We are not a combination of two; rather, we are a clear and meaningful expression of one. That expression is made of people, the vast majority new since ten years ago, who embrace that God is creating something new among and with us. With meaning and purpose and vision, All Pilgrims courageously lives forward to discover and exhibit God’s call. Ultimately, it was each day that the first followers of Jesus lived their faith. Yesterdays didn’t come around again, and tomorrows were experienced as they arrived in today. The telling of the Gospel story wasn’t a history lesson, nor was it an attempt to go back to the good ole days. It was told to invite openness to the living God who transforms and calls to mission, today. That is who we are! A people of such transforming encounter with grand mission, today!
I have been privileged to witness the past few years as your numbers have grown, your relational commitment levels increased, your spirituality deepened, and your ministries and mission expanded. You are a part of a movement that continues to gain momentum as you meet challenge with faith, hope, and love. The impact is far beyond what could be written here. People fed, wounded healed, lost found, isolated embraced, fearful made buoyant with hope, and so much more. Most of all, though, in a time when fear reigns and is so easy a justifier to be withdrawn, stay in, keep to ourselves, you face challenge with the courage to know yourselves, by the Spirit of God, to be bigger than what comes your way. You make challenge an invitation to do something grand. That is the courage to live faithfully, and that pleases God, whose mission for us requires faithful and hopeful courage.
We have only begun….again. We are soon to embrace a group of new members. We have been blessed with the addition of Stephen Marshall-Ward to continue and expand our wonderful music ministry. We are soon to offer small group experiences for connection, spiritual nurture, and discovery. Our ministries will live faithfully to express God’s love each day. Our worship will be alive and boisterous. And, of course, we will welcome many newcomers with an embrace fitted to the statement – God loves you and there’s nothin’ you can do about it! …because that’s who we are.
All Pilgrims’ 10th anniversary is celebrated this Sunday, May 19. Join in the party! (There’ll be cake!)