So begins the story of Pentecost and the birth of the Christian church. The pouring out of God's spirit was upon all flesh, and the evangelist wanted us to note age, gender, race, and socioeconomic position.
We know why. Since 1951, when we were chartered as Steel Lake Community Presbyterian Church, we felt God was speaking directly to us. We knew that just as we were welcomed into this fellowship long ago, we were to welcome anyone from our community because, we reasoned, they had heard God's Spirit. We were white and rich and poor. We welcomed all who came. Now we are people from all over the world and, just like before, we welcome all who come who are called by Christ. It was the Jewish diaspora who heard this the first time, but now Gentiles hear God's call from all over the world.
Federal Way, Washington, is literally God's little acre. The whole world has descended upon this place and made us the most racially diverse part of King County. Languages from around the world are heard in restaurants and in our church building. Our church worships in English at 10 a.m., while across the way in the Hurd Chapel, they worship in Spanish. Later, at 1 p.m., you hear Slavic in our sanctuary; then at 3 p.m., our brother, Rev. Lauden Kangele, a Presbyterian pastor of City of Glory Church (a 1001 new worshipping community) worships as six nations in Swahili.
We know the story of Pentecost because we are pentecostal every Sunday. Pentecost this year will be our new beginning. For the first time we will say it is our mission to be missionaries of the Lord. Whether it is local or global, our direction for everything we do will be outward. We will expect our pastor, session, and staff to spend more time with the community than with us; we will expect the preschool to spend more time with the community than with us; we will expect each program and ministry of our church to spend more resources on the community as a response to the direction the Lord has given our elders.
So that is why we are going back to our founding principles. Our mission is in our name. We were born with the name Presbyterian, which means elder. This is not just our polity; this is our identity. How we treat our elders, not just those ordained to office but also those over 50, how we listen to and respect our elders, and how we care for our elders, says everything about who we worship and who we love.
That, we believe, is how God wants us to live in these later days. We are called to serve the aging community and its ecosystem. This is the way back for a world and an American society which has abandoned all forms of family, tradition, and the wisdom of its elders. We intend to model how a world can find its way back from a divisive political campaign, a sputtering world economy, and its violent use of power.
Come worship with us May 15 and experience the hope God claimed for us long ago at the new testament Pentecost, when the Spirit of God was poured out upon all flesh.
With love and excitement,