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Pastor's Pen

July Pastor's Pen

Dear Church Family,
As most of you already know, because we talked about this during a worship service about a month ago, we received an inquiry about the availability of our church property at the parsonage location in Wintersville. This inquiry came from a Wintersville church that is growing and looking for a prime location to build a new church to house their membership.
Receiving this call sent a quiver through all of us about the question:  “If God wants a church on that property then who will make that happen?  Do we sell our property or do we build the church?”  It is an important question for us to “wrestle” with at this time in our faith journey.
All of us are keenly aware that our beautiful church in Steubenville is sorely empty most of the time and the numbers on Sunday are less than we would like to see.  We have questioned if it is the location that hinders us from adding new members?  When we observe other churches growing who have relocated - then we have even deeper questions.
Our Church Council is taking this into prayer and asking that we all do the same.  This decision after all is not solely ours to make – it is ours to act upon if the Spirit of God is calling us to do a new thing at Zion.
Tomorrow I will be exploring some ideas with local ministries about other outreach opportunities for our church and the future use of our beautiful building.
We have begun to explore what it would mean to decide to build in collaboration with United Church Homes at our Wintersville property.  This exploration is about creating something for seniors at the same time building a new worship center.
As you can see, these are big questions that we are exploring.  Your prayers and your thoughts are very valuable.  When you are thinking about these matters, I invite you to do so in the midst of a prayerful heart.  After all, this isn’t so much about what we want and what makes us comfortable, as it is about what God wants and what we are called to do at this time and in these places.
This is a lot to ponder, I know.  I feel the weight and the JOY of the adventure of partnering with the Holy Spirit in new and exciting and challenging ways.
I don’t have the answers.  I don’t believe that any one of us has the answers as yet.  We are in a time of prayer and exploration.
There will be ample opportunities for all of us to gather to share our thoughts and air our feelings.  One of the ways that Council is reaching out to embrace members of the congregation is by having “Sunday After” Meetings on the Sunday after the Council meeting has been held.  There will be a brief report to the congregation of the status of the exploration process and there will be time for prayer, questions and discussion.
Know that we are vibrant and needed in the family of God and God is still speaking!
Just today I received a phone call from a person seeking a church that is willing to wrestle with the questions instead of having pat answers.  We are that church.  A reminder that this is our Mission Statement: 
Zion United Church of Christ is a diverse community of faith, wrestling with the radical message of Jesus Christ to seek ways to care for our world.
Join me as we wrestle together,
Reverend Doctor Carol Vaccariello

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