We are called to be a missional church. We will witness to Christ's love and minister with members of the aging community, their families, and caregivers. We will act in the power of the Holy Spirit and follow where God guides us through the discipline of spiritual discernment.
Session voted to make this the mission of your church. Wow! This has been met with joy, excitement, and anger. Now two Town Hall meetings later, a spiritual energy has been building as people read and reread what it says... and what it does not say.
Many expected the elders to address the internal needs of the church as an institution: we need more money, we need more people to give, we need more people to be on committees and do the work. That came out of a good motivation based on memories people had of raising their families at Steel Lake. So a youth group, a youth and children's choir, a second service, all memories of the past were some of the expectations of the future. Many were disappointed when the mission faced outward and not inward.
Yet when you retrace the history of our church and discover everything that happened over time, you remember the youth groups and children's programming occurred after people had been coming for a while. What happened first was that Steel Lake had an initial vision to reach out into the community to serve a portion of the population. This new vision is a replication of the very beginning of our church, yet related to our 21st century needs.
We are targeting individuals 50+ years old and their families. This world of people who are affected by the 21st century phenomenon of aging are our top priority. Their lives, the children they are raising, the age prejudice, and bewilderment they are experiencing will become our life together.
From the blog "raisingyourgrandchildren.com" we read about the needs of those grandparents raising grandchildren:
"At times, I become very lonely. I wish I had an understanding friend, who would listen to me and advise me. I guess I wish I had someone who understands what I'm going through. The friends I thought were 'friends' would just say 'Send him back,' but I would NEVER do that. I've had him since he was 3; he now is getting ready to turn 12. I also worry about his not having a male figure in his life."
"My husband and I are trying to pay off our mortgage and car payment so that he can retire next year. Taking care of our two-year-old grandson was an unexpected event and can be a real challenge at times with both of us working full time; however, we love our grandson so much and are going to do the best we can to care for and nurture him. Our biggest challenge is his mother. She is strung out on drugs and in and out of jail--she only wants to talk to us when she needs bail. We have done everything we can to help her but we refuse to continue to enable her. It is such a painful decision and we struggle daily. She is our only daughter and it is just so difficult!!!"
These are stories in the community and we have similar stories in our church. This community affected by aging includes their families and caregivers. Caregivers are the volunteer/family and friends who care for loved ones and the professional caregivers who are hired to work in the home and facility. There are 18,000 people in King County alone who are grandparents raising grandchildren. Of course, there are many more issues these sisters and brothers face.
We will celebrate our new mission on Pentecost Sunday, May 15. Our worship and reception will include members of our church and the community of Federal Way. The Presbytery of Seattle, the Mayor's office, and area agencies on aging will participate in this grand celebration of our new mission even as we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the church!
Please note the date, May 15, 10 a.m., and bring at least one more person to this celebration. Continue to watch this space for more announcements. Thank You !!!! for attending our celebration and for supporting this vision with your prayers and decisions to participate in your Church's new endeavor.
With love and gratitude,