October 28, 2018 – Year B – 23rd Sunday after Pentecost
Celebrating the 2000’s
To describe the 2000’s as eventful is an understatement. In many respects the decade of change and turbulence began on March 7, 2000 with the death of Rev. Helen Stover-Scott. Helen had been off work on disability the previous year after serving since 1996. However, the congregation was well served by lay people such as Mickey Bell, Fern Gibbard, Doug Ormond, Sarah Morgan, Cornelia King, and Sheila MacDermott as chair persons of Council and Doreen Bobbitt as Secretary.
January 16, 2000 was a joyous day, as the brand new hand-bells were dedicated. They arrived December 22, 1999 just in time for the Christmas Eve service. Thanks to many donations, much fundraising, and significant support from the Sanctuary choir the Angelus Ringers Hand-bell Choir came into being.
In the spring of 2000 the Retired Civil Servants began using room 1A (now known as 103) twice weekly on a year-round basis.
2000 was also the year that the beaded red and white HIV/AIDS ribbons from South Africa, educational campaign was launched.
Staff changes were significant throughout the decade. Doug Youngstrom retired as Pastoral Care visitor and Volunteer Coordinator in 2000 and was replaced by Barbara Mason, who left in 2002. Marianne Lummin joined the staff in 2000. Caroline Hild left the Youth Group leader position in 2000. Ross White became Interim Minister form 2000 – 2002. In 2001 Shannon Oliver became our part time host. Connie Sloane resigned as Office Administrator in 2001. Dianne Clarke resigned as Office Administrator in 2002. Linda Ervin was called to the church in 2002 and served until 2007. Tim Scorer joined the staff in 2003 assisting the youth program. Jim McNaughton was with us from 2003-2007. Rev. Harvie Barker was named Minister Emeritus in March 2005. Alice Deroche became Choir Director in 2007. Rev. David Sparks served as supply minister in 2007. Rev. Ralph Spencer was supply minister in 2008 for 22 months.
Along with various changes of staff came many efforts at looking at decision making. In 2001 the committee structures were revised, a Mission statement was developed, and a new staffing model was implemented. In 2004 the Council governance model ended and a Board structure was executed. This new structure had 9 members empowered to make decisions on behalf of the church. In 2005 the Board decided to use consensus decision making. By 2008 it was determined that the Council system of governance would be re-implemented.
As we spend time in our church’s archives room, it become clear that 2006 was a difficult year for our community of faith. Tension is noted in minutes from that year, unhappiness is expressed in correspondence addressed to the board. A desire for change permeates the various documents of that year. In 2007 Kamloops Okanagan Presbytery was very involved in mediating and overseeing. By 2008 two congregations became a reality.
However, all was not doom and gloom. Street parking which has a 1 hour limit outside the church is overlooked for weddings and funerals as long as we call the by-law office, came about in 2000. In 2001 Healing Touch was recognized as an important part of the ministry of Penticton United Church. That same year Ted Makar removed the floor files from the Penticton Art Gallery, loaded them in his truck, took them home, cleaned them and installed them in the large room 205 upstairs. In 2003 a new elevator/lift was installed. A motion was passed that we celebrate our anniversary annually on or about November 18 with a major celebration every 5 years. The Senior Wellness Centre began using space in the building. The Sermons that Speak series began in 2007.
2000-2009 was a decade of challenges. It was a time of uncertainty and discomfort for you, the people of God, who were struggling to be faithful. Sometimes it seemed as if darkness was our new reality. We had difficulty seeing our way out of the muck and mire. We could relate to blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus. There were times throughout that decade that we wanted to cry, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy of me!” We felt stuck, and hurt, and blind to answers that were in the best interest of the congregation. We prayed faithfully for the persons on the transition team who met representing Penticton United, Oasis United and Presbytery. Much of the work was confidential so again you felt like you were blind. We needed Jesus to help us see the possibilities of God’s kin-dom.
We hear the story of Bartimaeus as if it is prophecy. How amazing that this week’s lection is the account of a blind beggar seeking new life! I couldn’t have selected a more appropriate scripture text. The account of this blind friend reminds us that there is a vast difference between healing and cure. We may pray for a cure that was not possible, though healing was possible. I suspect that many prayers were offered asking that the chasm that was growing in the congregation might be cured. However, what really happened was that the great divide was healed by creating space and time. And the faithful answer at that specific time was division. Vision was restored, by God’s grace.
Bartimaeus was a persistent man who pursued Jesus with determination. He recognized Jesus as the Anointed One, the Messiah. Even though Bartimaeus could not see Jesus he heard the crowd crying out to the Son of David. He wanted to be part of the action. Once receiving sight, Bartimaeus acted upon this great insight and follows the Anointed One on the way.
Such faithfulness is a model for us. Will we see the other sojourners who are on the way with us? Will we recognize them as pilgrims of new possibilities? Will we courageously refuse to be silent about injustice, as we look around and see abuse of land, water, and air? May we commit to the principles of reduce, renew and recycle. May we inform our politicians and corporate leaders that we want decisions that ensure a healthy planet. Rest assured this church’s council has implemented such policies. Presbytery recognizes us as a green church. May we turn the struggles of the 2000’s into health for the future.
Let us understand the decade as a turning point. Our eyes were opened to new possibilities of cooperation, loving and witness. We praise God for new beginnings. So be it. Amen.