Greetings from our Pastor!
Dear PACC friends and members,
On Pentecost we shared a solid first draft of Park Avenue’s “Why” statement – the reason we are a part of this faith community and the difference we hope our community makes in the world. This Why statement was drawn from more than eight months of listening to your hopes, dreams, and values. It highlights two things that came up over and over again in our conversations: how important both human and spiritual connection are to you; and your desire to do good – to have a real, positive impact on those around you.
The goal was to distill those priorities into a “Why” we can all wrap our heads around; one we can refer to when we are planning the future and making decisions; one that can inspire us and guide us as we envision where God is calling us next:
To practice deep and fulfilling connection with God and each other, so that we can live as true neighbors, belonging to and caring for others as our own.
The importance of connection grew out of conversations about what’s missing in our world – how fragmented our societies have become, both socially and spiritually. It’s a bold claim about the power of building community and attending to our spiritual lives – and a reminder that that takes practice! It’s a proclamation that when we show up here and give of ourselves and are vulnerable with one another, we are living the way God has created us to be – together, with a sense of belonging, worth, and purpose.
The idea of “true neighbors” comes from a coffee hour conversation about the difference we want to make. The invitation from Mr. Rogers (who, you may know, was a minister) to “be my neighbor” got us thinking – how can we be good neighbors, both to people down the street and people across the world? A game-changing answer is found when someone asks Jesus “Who is my neighbor?” He responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan, challenging us to see strangers and even enemies as belonging to us, as worthy of compassion and dignity instead of dismissal or pity – in other words, as just as valuable as our own flesh and blood. That’s another bold proclamation in a political and cultural climate fixated on dividing people and demonizing the “other”!
I hope these concepts resonate with you. As with any “Why,” ours is subject to tweaks and adjustments, and in the weeks to come, I hope to hear from you all what you think of this Why statement so that we can refine it together and make it our own.
In the meantime – from “Transgender 101” to “Learning to Pray” to the annual church picnic – I am excited for Park Avenue to continue championing connection and neighborliness! May God be with us as we do so.
With joy and gratitude,
Reverend Leah Lyman Waldron, Pastor
P.S. For further reflection on connection and being neighbors, go to www.pacc-ucc.org/sermons and click on the sermons from March 4 (connection) and May 20 (neighbors), 2018.