Like stopping in a clearing with a view, our pausing to mark and celebrate 135 years as a congregation is a chance to look around: to locate where we are by looking back and by looking forward. Thanks to our 135th anniversary history team to help provide us with such a view. Last month, I wrote an article about all the signs of life that I see right now in our congregation; increased energy and participation in worship, many vital small groups of support and prayer and growth, the largest youth ministry in the Central Pacific Conference, an active elder council, renewed efforts at strengthening lay leadership, bylaw changes, and a revitalized pastoral care program. We also see improved trends in our finances and are making new investments in building maintenance including beginning soon a major audio-visual upgrade for the sanctuary.

It is a cliché that the only constant is change, yet it remains true. In 135 years, there have been multiple locations, three buildings built, many pastors and generations, new issues and new learnings and new challenges. Yet, some things do stay the same. The vision of Thomas and Cordelia Holt Condon and those other 21 people who gathered for the first Sunday in 1889 continues: to be a spiritual community that kept learning, that saw no conflict between science and spirituality, that honored the pursuit of truth by each person, and that trusted the God of love and the teachings of Jesus. We now are the embodiment of that continuing vision for a liberating faith that is still listening for the Divine’s leading.

God’s people have always moved in this way into the future: following the eternal and enduring values and evolving them into new expressions often in new times and places. Continuity and change. And so it will be. First Congregational’s first 135 years have included both great achievements and great mistakes. We are still on the journey, still seeking the fullest expression of “on earth as it is in heaven,” still learning to be and create Beloved Community.

Likely by the end of the calendar year, a new Lead Pastor will be here with you on the journey toward 150 years. Until then, I am grateful for the time I have spent in ministry with you as a part of the ongoing journey of FCC.

Pastor JT