Moving Forward: Courageous Changes

Lisa Allgood – Executive Presbyter

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.                                              – Deuteronomy 31:6

I want to take a moment and brag about the courageous “next steps” or in some cases “first steps” some of our congregations are making.  I’m not going to name names, except where something has already taken root.  These are truly steps taken in faith that the Lord is leading them into a new season and is providing for them.

One congregation is courageously looking at creating a new pastoral staffing model to honor the amazing place they are and the skills they have in place while building other skills to keep propelling them forward.

One congregation is courageously stepping out in faith by calling a designated pastor after transition, to keep them moving ahead and stepping out into a new season.

Three congregations are courageously beginning conversations about how they might come together.

One congregation is courageously hunkering down because they are worshipping with a number of Cameroonian and Ghanaian families, and moving would cause them to lose contact with people who have become beloved to the congregation.

Four congregations are courageously creating versions of affordable housing on their campus.  One of those is currently housing a family of Syrian refugees, and another is housing Ukrainian refugees – and has started working with a local group of Mauritian refugees as well.

Kennedy Heights, a long-standing faithful community church with deep roots in the community, courageously sold its building, bought a smaller one, and renamed its congregation “Sunrise Presbyterian Church”.  The mission that had been housed in the original building, The Caring Place (established in 1982 by a coalition of churches serving Golf Manor, Kennedy Heights, Pleasant Ridge, and Silverton, with the goal to provide a variety of services to members of our communities who find themselves in need of food, clothing, furniture, rent and utility assistance, family development and support groups), has been moved intact to the Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church.

Eastminster Presbyterian Church not only courageously purchased back their own building, after living in it with a 10-year lease after it had been purchased by another church – but is now housing a non-denominational church with deep Reformed roots, Legend Community Church, who serve as the primary worship leaders.  Their first Sunday was March 17th, and more than 130 people attended Day 1!  They continue together to work with an embedded non-profit, the Madisonville Education and Assistance Center (MEAC), to continue providing support and resources to the community of Madisonville – never skipping a beat!

I recently preached a sermon at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (I’m on the Board of Trustees and we were installing new Trustees that day) – it’s incredibly intimidating for someone like me to be asked to preach at a seminary, but that’s a blog for another day!  The sermon topic was “Step Out” and I referenced a number of these courageous congregations – and even more. And the final thought was tied to Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Our dreams are much too small, and they hold us back.  It’s when we step out into the dreams God has for us, with courage and intention – then the magic happens.  Big dreams can start small, but they are an act of faith.  My friends – have courage. Do not be afraid.  We do this for our Lord.

Excerpt:  Big dreams can start small, but they are an act of faith.