Over the past several months, along with input from throughout the congregation, a team has been working to gain insight into God's direction for the church. I have been privileged to be a part of that team. It has been a lot of work steeped in a lot of prayer and discussion.
As one of the final steps of this process, we wanted to come up with some sort of "summary statement" for the vision of our church over the next three or so years. Worsdmithing a short but easy to understand statement proved to be no easy task. A number of us served on a "writing team" to work on it. This micro-team worked together in a couple of meetings and also via email.
Only three of us were able to attend the final meeting of this small writing team. Those three were our senior pastor (Chris), one of our associate pastors (Barb), and me. With several possible summary statements on the board, and most of them pretty lengthy, we had our work cut out for us. But Barb was an absolute champ, pushing us to keep digging and refining.
I was a bit taken aback though when, after about a half hour, Barb and Chris stopped talking to me. They wouldn't say a word. They weren't talking to each other either. And then, all of a sudden but in nearly perfect unison, they got up from their chairs and walked out of the room. I didn't know what to think about this. So, I did what pretty much anyone would do. I got up and followed them.
Much to my surprise they walked out the back door of the church. I was glad I'd kept my jacket on. Still not talking, they walked out of the parking lot and started heading south on Miami Avenue. I followed them, several steps behind them actually. Eventually, they turned east, crossed the river, and came to the foot of Orbison Hill. Now, Orbison Hill is certainly no mountain but it is a pretty aggressive hike. I wasn't sure what they'd do, or what I'd do. I kept thinking about the work we had in front of us and how we really just needed to head back to the church and get back on task. But Chris and Barb? They started walking up Orbison Hill.
Well, with them not even talking to me, and having no clue what they were up to, I stayed at the bottom of the hill. About an hour passed with me watching the sidewalk for any sign of them when, all of a sudden, I could start to make out that they were walking back down the hill. Shortly after they came into my view, there appeared to be some sort of altercation between the two of them. They paused for a couple of minutes and I thought I heard a faint anguished scream from Chris, but then they started making their way diwn the hill again. I still couldn't see them real well but eventually I could make out that Barb was carrying something. Something that looked pretty heavy. (Why hadn't I brought my binolculars with me? Normally I bring them to all meetings at church.)
As they got closer, I could see that what Barb was carrying was a large stone tablet. This seemed rather peculiar to me but, the closer they they came and the more intently I stared, I could see words carved into that tablet. The words looked familiar to me but re-worked. Could it possibly be? Yes, it was! It was our summary statement for the writing team, now in completed form!
What an incredible way for us to be given this statement! I was in awe. Yes, we ultimately had to present it to the rest of the team and also to church council for approval but, with the words chiseled on stone from high atop Orbison Hill, how could anyone possibly ever argue with them?
Now ... for the rest of the story ... A couple of weeks after this all went down, Chris let a few additional facts slip. Facts that explained the altercation I'd seen and the faint anguished scream. It seems that Barb and he had actually each been given a stone tablet there on top of Orbison Hill. There were to have been two options for the Summary Statement that others at the church could vote upon. But Barb sort of preferred her tablet to the one Chris had and she tripped Chris on their way down the hill, causing him to drop his tablet. Somewhere on the side of Orbison Hill, that tablet still lays, shattered into thousands of pieces.
So, there you have it ... for the history of Sidney First. (Yet to be confirmed by Barb.)