Yesterday, our church got to enjoy a great event that has been birthed over the last four years. On a 4th of July a few years back, a couple of members headed down to the church, thinking that the front steps of the sanctuary would be a good place to watch the city fireworks display over the river. When they arrived, they realized they were not the first folks to have that notion. There was already a good-sized group (none of whom were church members) assembled for the same purpose.
The next year, on a supremely hot 4th, Natasha Deal recruited David Murray and the two of them (with a little help from a couple of others) hauled out a cooler full of cold drinks, a charcoal grill and several packs of hot dogs and buns and handed them out to whoever wanted one.
Building on that, the next year, we started earlier. Added hamburgers, a band and a bouncy house. Only we didn’t think to thaw out the burger meat ahead of time. And in order to save money we decided we could pick up, set up and return the bouncy house on our own. It was a little hectic.
This year, with an I-pod playlist and speakers set up, hamburger meat thawed, bouncy house delivered, setup and retrieved by the company and several more volunteers than were out that first year (but still organized by Natasha and managed to a great extent by David), we had a well-attended, fun event that ran smoothly with very few hiccups. We’re not really used to that.
For an essentially four-year-old congregation in an 116-year-old church, a lot of what we do is something we are doing for the first time. And, as much as we love to do new things and are always willing to try something, first-time events take a lot more effort and energy than the ones that have gone on for enough years that you understand how many volunteers are needed, where everything needs to be set up and when you need to start planning.
We still have some first-time events coming up. We have our first every Trivia Night to help raise money for our new Pay-What-You-Can Meal Program. We’re testing out the whole crowd source funding thing for a new way to do Sunday School. We will always be looking for new ways to reach out and to serve our community. But we do revel in being around long enough to have some events and programs that we’ve had time to test, tweak and turn in to tradition. May we continue celebrating the 4th at First Pres for as long as people want to come, and when the time for that outreach ends, may we gracefully move on to our next calling.