The following represent what we see as new frontiers for our church. At our Annual Meeting this coming Sunday, these are the points I hope to discuss and lift up as ways to focus our mission and ministry efforts.
- 1. South Mountain Partnership: http://southmountaincli.blogspot.com/
This partnership, formed under the auspices of the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has a unique mission. Its stated purpose is to protect, preserve and enhance the natural, cultural, and economic assets of our South Mountain Region. This area roughly comprises the 100,000 acres of the Michaux State Forest and the adjacent public and private lands in Franklin, Cumberland and Adams counties. If you can see the blue hills of South Mountain, you’re in this region!
This geographic zone is of critical importance with respect to watershed, agricultural, recreational, and business interests. It is a magnet for hunting, fishing, hiking, history buffs, campers, and visitors of all sorts. Our family farms operate in the foothills and depend on the springs, creeks and water resources flowing within this unique geology. Restaurants, B & Bs, and tourism of all sorts thrive in this region. In addition to Michaux State Forest, public lands include King’s Gap, Caledonia, Pine Grove Furnace, and Gettysburg National Military Park. There are fragile ecosystems not found anywhere else and the flora and fauna are studied by many academic institutions. It is a transportation corridor within which businesses can successfully operate.
In short, our quality of life is very much wrapped up in the health and well-being of all the constituents being served in the South Mountain region. One small project with which Zion has become involved is the endeavor to preserve and interpret the special history of Camp Michaux. By virtue of our involvement we are now members of the Partnership. This spring we will have the opportunity to help create trails at the site and offer other assistance. This is an important outreach, and way to get our name known in the community as a church that cares about the quality of life in our region. We can also educate ourselves, through Partnership events, about the issues that concern us all.
2. The “Peace House” project at the Gettysburg Episcopal Church. As noted some weeks ago, the old St. Francis rectory has been purchased by the Episcopalians and will be renovated to serve as the new soup kitchen. There will also be an apartment for a refugee family. This exciting project will be an opportunity for us to sharpen our fund-raising skills once again. Perhaps there will be new opportunities to assist in the day-to day operation as well. Renovations are scheduled for completion by the end of 2011.
3. SCCAP in Gettysburg has long served those whom Jesus loved best—the poor, the homeless, the families struggling to make a living and educate their children. We have often participated in this effort. A new GED program has been launched as part of an overall strategy of equipping people to help themselves. There are opportunities for us to partner by providing tutors, mentors, support for special celebrations, and generally by providing a witness of Christian caring.
4. Our veterans’ ministry is ready for new challenges. Can we offer hospitality for a support group of returning vets, vets struggling to readjust, or just any vet who needs a helping hand? Can we somehow assist vets in the difficult process of seeking benefits? We need leaders who will give direction and guidance to this important ministry.
5. Whether or not you use the new technology, our website and social networking are becoming a public face to this church. It is important. The benefits will be felt over time, although probably not in ways we can predict. It remains our best way at the moment, of reaching a generation that is not present in church….but one that feels the same need for spiritual grounding as does the rest of us.
6. Finally, a new frontier that is a frontier as old as Christianity…growing disciples for the Kingdom of God. When was the last time you invited…really invited….someone to attend church with you? Let’s make 2011 the year that each of takes seriously Christ’s command to “go therefore, and make disciples…” Bring a friend to Christ, and share the love we have found.
Thank you to all our members who are now a part of our vital, active and thriving ministry. You make this a shining “city on a hill” that brings the message of Jesus to our neighbors in this community.