Monday, October 7, 2013

Celebrating 150 years at Community Presbyterian Church in Plainview, Minnesota

Yesterday I had the wonderful privilege in participating in the 150th anniversary celebration of Community Presbyterian Church in Plainview.  Over a year ago John Curtiss, the pastor of the church, had asked me to save the date and invited me to come.  It was terrific that my wife, Amy, and daughter, Hannah could join me in the celebration.
The celebration started before worship as the church dedicated its new bell structure.  The bell hadn’t been sounded before worship in at least 15 years when it fell off its moorings in the bell tower.  I still remember that day well.  Bob Bosma, a senior high youth at the time, was doing his duty of ringing the bell before worship.  When he pulled the rope all of us heard a very large “thump.”  We later realized that we were fortunate that the bell hadn’t fallen all the way to the basement of the church and caused significant injury and damage.  The bell ended up on a large piece of wood that cracked but stayed in place. 
This past year the people of the church raised money for a beautiful bell stand.  Wally Richardson, one of the oldest people in the church—rang the bell before worship for the first time since that fateful day when the bell fell.  The sound was deep, rich and rang through the community.  The sound of the bell was a reflection of the Scripture inscribed on the bell, "Let him that heareth say come," Revelation 22:7.
Yesterday the focus of worship was on the past.  This coming Sunday the congregation will look into the future.  Yesterday we sang old hymns and remembered many of the saints who came before us. 
It was humbling for me to reflect on the many people who have worked together to form this strong faith community called, “Community Presbyterian Church.  I served there as the pastor for 16 years—and that is only one-tenth of the church’s existence.  The church is never about one person or group of people—and this fact was never more apparent than at this celebration.
I shared during my short talk that yesterday we were re-naming the Presbytery, the Presbytery of Plainview Area.  For the intersection of 5th and Broadway was the place to be.  People jammed into the sanctuary to remember the past.  In his sermon John Curtiss looked at the question, “what is faith?” the question that the disciples had asked Jesus.  He replied that faith does not have to be a complicated endeavor.  Jesus answered the question himself when he said that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains.
I  especially enjoyed the power point presentation that Diana Pries shared.  She shared many pictures of past pastors and many pictures of the ministry that had taken place there.
After a congregational pot-luck the church sponsored a program where seven significant people from the church’s past suddenly showed up to share their stories.  We heard a story from a charter member of the church—whose story came from the 1860’s.  We also heard how Don Harrington (who was played by his son, Kent) was taken up by faith.  Faith for him eventually was more than a church organization; it was the amazing grace that God shares with us.
The community of Plainview has been blessed over the past 150 years by the ministry of Community Presbyterian Church.  Yay, God for the faithful dedication of these saints over the past century-and-a-half!

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