Breath of New Life
What happens when a church that has closed meets a pastor with a unique vision?
The people of Floyd County, Viginia found out when Rev. Edwin Lacy discovered an old brick church that was sitting empty on Macks Mountain Road. The Presbyterian congregation that had called that building home had faced the same problems and concerns that plague many rural churches - lack of members, changing demographics, dwindling financial resources. Over the course of its hundred year history, the church had never had more than 50 members, but had found its purpose in a sense of mission in the name of Jesus Christ. When its doors finally closed, Rev. Lacy approached Abingdon Presbytery about a new kind of ministry.
The result is a worshipping community that celebrates its Appalachian culture as it worships in the name of Jesus Christ. The initial remodeling project replaced the pews with rocking chairs, the pulpit with a fireplace, and the organ with traditional bluegrass music. The community worships on Tuesday nights in order to avoid a sense of competition with other area churches, bringing together an interesting mix of participants including some who see the community as their congregation, some who belong to other churches but never miss a Wild Goose gathering, and some who are either newcomers to the faith or who have not been in a church building in years.
They call their times together Wild Goose Uprisings. Each Tuesday night begins with a potluck supper in the shelter out back. Then the participants gather in the sanctuary, where they rock and sing, enjoying the music and the conversation. Instead of a sermon, Rev. Lacy leads a discussion on a topic from scripture, and when they celebrate communion, it is with Mason jars, rather than traditional communion cups. Sometimes the evenings end with square dancing or an impromptu jam session.
A 2000 graduate of the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, Rev. Lacy is excited about the renewal they have experienced and the possibilities for the larger church. "Regardless of how we do church, the traditional body of Christ is very much alive and well. I’m so excited this is happening in a rural setting. I hope it helps other small churches think differently before they lock their doors.”
For more information, see the Wild Goose Community web site at http://wildgoosecc.com/ or the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) article on 1001 New Worshipping Communities at http://www.pcusa.org/news/2013/12/4/wild-goose-uprising/
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