After a month of “hellos” and a couple of Sundays under my belt, I feel like things are settling down a bit. I’ve been seeing some of our programs in action, such as the Great Lakes outreach ministry that our congregation is proudly offering to Navy recruits. I was proud to assist Chris Isely with his on-base worship service a few weeks ago. Our Great Lakes ministry is outreach at its best: a gift to the world without the promise of immediate reward—except for those leading worship! Just hearing the stories shared during joys and sorrows was worth the trip.
Cindy and I are grateful for the warm reception we have received, not to mention the fantastic gluten-free potluck on August 25. I had been told that summer services are sparsely attended. Apparently not many of you read the memo, for if the past several weeks have been any indication, we’re in for a crowded fall. (Look for info next month about a January transition to two services.) Seats have been full, energy is up, and the spirit is certainly alive within our walls.
And so I turn my focus in September to what is outside our walls. I have a few relationship-building opportunities already lined up (one-on-one conversations and lunches with area pastors), and this coming Sunday I will be a part of Shared Streets Evanston’s “Ask a Minister” program. Apparently, I will stand on a sidewalk and answer questions to which a minister should have answers.
Our outreach push this fall is around prison and restorative justice. It’s a timely campaign with television shows like Orange is the New Black and books like The New Jim Crow both capturing so much public attention. Now is the time to act on this issue led by our Peace and Justice Committee. I invite you to attend a kickoff event on Wednesday, October 9, with a catered dinner (Lou Malnati’s pizza!) and discussion about employment issues faced by previously incarcerated people. I’ll deliver a sermon in late September on the issue, and together we can plan how to “stand on the side of love” on this important and contemporary concern. See you for pizza on the 9th!