Updated: Mar 13, 2022
“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving... we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it...
but we must sail and not drift nor lie at anchor.”
Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, oft used sailing metaphors when describing life’s dilemmas. In a time before GPS, individuals, countries and institutions all were required to chart their own course. The time for such a reckoning has come for The Park Church. Taking stock I find that we have abundant stores with regards to both our craft and our treasure chest. Some may think that expanding our crew is the next most important task.
But I would caution us, at this juncture, and pause to consider our destination before we recruit more hands. In what direction are we moving? How will we steer and to what port of call?
Our founders had a vision of their destination and sailed through troubled waters indeed. At their time, church was ballast against isolation and provided a safe haven to find others to work with. Beecher rallied and they rowed -- and we are the beneficiaries of their efforts.
However, today we know what it feels like to be becalmed; through the last two years of COVID and the last four years of interim ministry. We have waited and we now have an engaging leader who asks us “Where shall we go?”
Note that Gary does not ask us “where do you want to go – where feels good to go” – but Gary is asking us where our spiritual responsibilities beckon us to action. Now we are challenged to choose -- knowing full well that we will be sailing close-hauled into an oncoming wind -- a storm of apathy and injustice coupled with closed-mindedness and self- satisfaction.
Because once we determine where that destination is, we will be empowered to say “We’ve decided that The Park Church will chart a course of advocacy for.......
We will continue to participate in community assistance projects and spiritual growth for members and friends -- and those things are to be lauded -- but in order to attract the new hands we need to survive, we must decide to choose, and not be afraid.
“Faith is like a muscle. It must be exercised to grow strong. Repeated experiences of having to trust what we can’t see and repeated experiences of learning to trust that things will work out, are what makes our faith muscles grow strong.” Melody Beattie
The new members we seek will be attracted to us upon learning of our articulated destination and determined course of action.
When Helen Keller spoke at The Park Church on April 25, 1926 she might have challenged the audience with one of these of her many remarkable quotes:
No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars or sailed to an uncharted land or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
That was 96 years ago. What shall we do with our resources and our responsibilities today?