Hard to believe I’ve been working for you for two years! And now that it looks like I will be with you for a bit longer,
seems like a good time to look back a bit and look forward a bit!
Lots has happened since I arrived. Some are pretty obvious, like 109 or so worship services (remembering to
count two Christmas Eve services and Holy Week and a few others), something like 24 Session meetings and 22 (I think)
Deacons meetings, a bunch of refreshment hours, a half-dozen church-wide meetings, two dozen community meals, two
Teazaars, a Vacation Bible Camp, lots of Sunday School and Adult Forum and Bible Studies, puppets, and uncountable
hours of Choir and Bell Choir rehearsals. We’ve led a monthly communion at Pinehurst. The building is noisy most of
the year with community groups, Girl Scouts, events in the park, and, of course, Creekside Nursery School. Quite a bit of
attention has been devoted to the care and upgrading of the building and manse. And, my favorite, the clattery back
door to the parking lot has been replaced and the drafty front door to the office has been rehabbed, just in time for the
September meeting of the Presbytery of Genesee Valley here.
Our folks have taken their mission out into the community and the world: volunteering at St. Peter’s Soup Kitchen,
donated to Cameron House, the KADE Project and the Food Pantry and other local missions, supported students
locally and abroad, helped at ecumenical worship services and projects. We have contributed to the major Presbyterian
offerings, including One Great Hour of Sharing, and, as they have arisen, special offerings for good causes and people in
hardships. This fall has seen a cascade of natural disasters, and we have responded by preparing hygiene, school, and
emergency clean-up kits for Church World Service and donating to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, not to mention all
the ways individuals have responded through other charities. This is a very caring bunch of Christians!
But I sense growth in some less physically-defined things, too. Spiritual formation for children and adults has
been gaining momentum, and the Christian Education program this year is growing in some fantastic new ways with our
new Whirl curriculum and Adam Lewis as Director of Christian Education. Many of the events and projects we’ve undertaken
over the years are gaining new helpers and leaders. That’s good “cross-training,” so lots of members know how to
do lots of things, spreading the load out. Members and friends have been generous not only with time but also with money,
and stewardship continues to edge up. We’ve had some interpersonal challenges, but have not only gotten through
them with relatively low disruption, and church leadership has learned a few things, adjusted some things, and become
better at the support of staff. Perhaps the nicest change has been the overall decrease in anxiety about the future and
FPCHF’s place in it.
There is still useful stuff to undertake while I’m working for you. On the one hand, there are some practical
things to get done before the next pastor is called, like getting some drainage and grading work done around the north
end of the building to prevent any more flooding in Creekside’s room, painting and reorganizing the manse, and gutter
work on both buildings. Cultivating new leaders and recruiting volunteers for church programs is an ongoing priority. But
I’m also working for the church, not just the next pastor, which is why we should return some attention to Christian Education
and spiritual formation, not just for the little children but for all ages. We have a solid (and fun) curriculum for Sunday
School, and with Adam Lewis’ direction, we can strengthen what we offer to our high school and adult members,
equipping them to be life-long disciples, always learning and growing as Christians in this complicated society. We continue
to expand the number of adults helping our kids with teaching and nursery care.
Like many small town congregations, folks are reluctant to take on topics where there may be strong differences
of perspective. As recent events in the village show, not even Honeoye Falls is immune to the waves washing over society,
like racism and neo-Nazism, immigration, economic justice, and all the rest. This is a congregation with people from
all over the gamut, both politically/socially and theologically, yet we don’t usually share our perspectives with each other,
perhaps for fear of dissension within the church family. The Presbyterian Church has always spanned the spectrum, believing
it’s important to keep everyone in the big tent of faith in Christ, no matter what differences we have otherwise.
This is a kind, thoughtful, considerate bunch of Christians, and I’m pretty sure we can disagree without being disagreeable.
It would be good to talk about talking about difficult conversations, which is why the Pastor Nominating Committee is
offering a luncheon roundtable about how we address all sorts of issues through our education and worship and fellowship.
The PNC has been asked by candidates about the breadth of our theology, and they didn’t feel they had a good
handle on that. This will help the PNC sort that out further.
All of this, of course, takes not just volunteers but financial resources, so we’ll put some attention into developing
generosity and stewardship. Many of our giving patterns are based on how churchgoers gave forty years ago and don’t
speak to young families in their thirties, so it’s time to discuss the theology of sharing and new ways of contributing, like
As we begin another year together, it’s tempting to think we have all the transitional work “done,” and that we will
just be marking time while the PNC completes its work. Nope, I think we’ve got all sorts of interesting things to do and
think and imagine and support as we keep walking into God’s future for First Presbyterian, Honeoye Falls. I’m pretty excited
to keep going with you!