I am honored to serve a dying church…

a church crucified for its justice stance,
risky mission, weddings,

a church table up-turning dumb
in its disregard for a balanced budget,

a church that gives a quiet environment
to the three kids
who would be lost
in a stimulating faith formation,

delighted to treasure the memories of elders
patient with old hymns,
stubborn about adopting new technology,
but so kind and personal with those
who wander in
down on their luck,

a church that made a couple bad matches
in leadership,
built a new wing or didn’t,
just couldn’t de-fuse that tough personality
because they knew
she was abused, he has cancer …

a new-church-start only three years old,
that won’t “make it,”
but made all the difference in twenty lives.

I am honored to serve a dying church
one that learns “good-bye,”
saints some miracles with old endowments —
saves an immigrant church,
even if it’s not “our” denomination,
funds a clinic,
a scholarship, a street ministry,

cracks jokes that that food will be divine
when the sanctuary is a restaurant.
Condos?
always thought the pastor’s study
could use some … plumbing,

waits for one funeral,
two or three gathered … but not alone.

I don’t currently serve a dying church, but a very small one — only five pews deep and forty-five members and it keeps us always aware of the fragility of our churching, and that it is really “OK.” I honor so many churches who have died with grace and love and am grateful for Paul Nixon’s series of insightful books.

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7 Responses to I am honored to serve a dying church…

  1. Nancy Rockwell says:

    So lovely – so loving – and wise

  2. EPR says:

    Thank you for this
    Really hits home

  3. Marie Lucca says:

    As the founder of an amazing, wonderful “New church start only 3 years old that won’t make it but made all the difference in 100 lives,” I love this poem and will keep it always.

  4. Connie Littlefield says:

    Maren, so touching, so poignant. I loved this!

    • Maren says:

      I am struck by ways in which palliative care models can actually be used with communities of people making choices for closure and often by the gifts of interim or transitional ministers to help with this.

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