“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in God’s excellent Word!”
I’ve been thinking about foundations a lot in the past few weeks, less because of John Rippon’s enduring
hymn, and more because of some water infiltration after the big rains through the basement foundation into the area
rented by Creekside Nursery School. Then again, I’m one of those preachers who can’t just leave a physical event
alone without turning it into some kind of sermon illustration (or newsletter column)!
While looking for where the water was getting into the downstairs, I walked along the perimeter of the church
building more intentionally than usual and peered into the crawlspace under Guild Hall. I’ve been down in the furnace
room and peered into the crawlspace under the sanctuary a couple of times since starting here, but I was
much more observant about the drainage and footings and the eaves and where water runs off or pools up. I had
kind of neglected that careful survey until then, until there was a problem. The good news is that the actual foundations—
the support walls in all parts of this building— are in good shape. There may be some places where water
can seep in, but the load-bearing concrete block and stones and mortar are really, really solid. Things look really
good from the street. But my walk-around showed signs of poor upkeep and neglect. And much of our recent problem
came from not keeping drainage paths clear. Much of the problem was not cleaning the gutters along Guild Hall
(and probably most of the rest of the building and the manse). The concrete retainer and diversion walls are pretty
bad. So we will have to spend some time and effort and resources to get back to where we need to be.
The physical underpinnings of the building got me thinking about the more spiritual foundations of this congregation
(the people and faith part of the congregation). Worship and the music program are really strong and excellent.
The missional impulse of members and groups in the congregation are strong and looking outward. Things
look pretty good from the street. However, although the structural elements of Christian Education are still rock solid,
there are some weak spots and some signs of lack of attention. I am greatly impressed by the work of the Christian
Education committee, the Christian Education Directors, the teachers, and the many helpers, I’m feeling the
congregation as a whole has done a poorer job of upkeep and support and ongoing maintenance for spiritual formation
and faith development, leaving a few people to keep things patched together. Many members only see the
Christian Education program from a distance, from the street, and don’t give it much thought.
Like the deluge pushed some drainage issues to the forefront, I think it is time to move Christian Education
to our mental forefront and resolve to get more people more involved in more ways. Since I arrived nearly two years
ago, the CE folks have been worrying about recruiting more participation from the pews. It’s been hard to recruit
additional teachers and helpers, despite the assistance they would get from the CE team. It’s been hard even to get
members to sit in on the CE team itself. Those seem to be cracks in the foundation. Most members say they value
Christian Education, and everyone clearly enjoys and supports the children and teachers when they participate in
worship. So it’s not a lack of appreciation for the program. I wonder if it is worry that helping out would be too complicated
or too much of a time commitment or that someone doesn’t feel they could help out with the kids. When I
look out, I see lots of grandparents and aunts and uncles who are really, really good with children. You can volunteer
to teach or assist for short periods of time; you don’t have to sign up for a whole semester. There is good help
for you if you wanted to try teaching a segment, or you could start by helping a current teacher. The CE Director
and CE team leader would be happy to talk to you about how you can start in the shallow end and work your way in.
This congregation believes that our youngest family members are important. It believes that a central foundation
of the church is the spiritual formation of children, youth, and adults. It has a rich history of Sunday School,
Youth Ministries, the Puppet Ministry, Adult Forum, mission trips, Bible Study, and other occasional opportunities for
How firm a foundation is our Christian Education program. That foundation is strong, but it needs some attention.
It needs your attention. We are all as much in charge of the spiritual upkeep of the Sunday School program
as for the physical upkeep of the building. This is the time of year when we prepare for our Christian Education program
gearing up in the fall, and it is an excellent time to pause and pray and think how you might be able to support
spiritual formation and faith development at FPCHF and whether you might volunteer. It’s not hard. and it can be
really rewarding. You will grow in your faith as you help our children grow.
Come join in!