We recently celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of my home church, Faith Missionary Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was a charter member at age thirteen, and FMC has been our largest supporting church over the years so there were lots of old friends to see. Saturday night was a picnic. Most fun for me were <!--more-->conversations with one of my former Pioneer Girls, now an oncology nurse, and with a thirteen-year-old budding writer who grew up in West Africa.
The worship service that followed hot dogs in the parking lot reviewed some of what God has done in the past fifty years. Comedy routines highlighting the decades were interspersed with videos, interviews and musical golden oldies from each decade, including favorites like “Knowing You" (1993), “Shine Jesus Shine" (1987), and “Majesty" (1981). I got teary when we sang the old gospel chorus “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” Faith Missionary Church started with a group leaving an older church whose pastor had lost his way. We had been focusing on the man in the pulpit and needed to turn our eyes upon Jesus instead. That became a theme song repeated almost weekly in those first months and years.
Faith has always been missions focused, donating to send us and many others to the "ends of the earth." As someone said during the weekend, “Missionary” is more than our middle name." In recent years the local community has changed to include many new immigrants. Now those who have donated for work overseas and among college students are also teaching English to Turks, Afghans, and Hispanics. Way to go, Faith!
John Crocker, dear friend and pastor during our stay in Indy in the mid-1980s, preached Sunday morning of the celebration weekend. He still has a twinge of accent from South Africa, the land of his birth that he left as a teen. He reminded us of the Queen Mary, the luxury ocean liner turned troop ship that is now a museum, hotel, and convention center. The staff is still called the crew. They use maritime language like starboard and port, fore and aft, but the ship sits at anchor in Long Beach, California, resting on its former laurels and going nowhere. John warned us not to do that as a church. We shouldn’t rest our the reputation of our former achievements, talking the language without continuing to serve in a vital way.
Here is the recommitment we spoke together during the service:
A Commissioning Prayer for Renewal and Commitment
Almighty God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
we thank you for having renewed your church
at various times and in various ways
by rekindling the fire of love for you.
As we look back over fifty years,
rekindle your love in our hearts and renew us
in the years ahead to fulfill the great commission
that Jesus committed to us;
so that, individually and collectively,
as Faith Missionary Church
we may help many to know Jesus Christ
as their Lord and Savior.
Empower us by your Spirit to share
with our neighbors and friends,
here and around the world,
our human stories in the context of your divine story,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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