Pat’s sister and brother-in-law and her parents live on a farm in the Panhandle of Florida. It’s a nice rural area but there are alligators and other critters. One night I was drifting off asleep and I heard a coyote in the distance. That of course got the dogs on the farm barking. So back and forth they went. The coyote would howl and the dogs would bark. The dogs would bark and then the coyote would howl.
But then I heard something that I had never heard before. Another coyote joined in and then another and another and another. And after awhile we had this beautiful coyote chorus in
the background. I enjoyed it for awhile and then entered a nice and peaceful sleep. Usually when a coyote howls in the distance I don’t think much of it, but in this case it was almost as they were singing to one another and to anyone else who would listen.
One could say that when a church is healthy and when the people are working well together, you have a well-sounding chorus in place. I wonder if that is not the case at Green Tree at the moment. In my most recent reports to the Church Board and the Pastoral Commission, I took the liberty to take the pulse or the temperature of the congregation from where I sit:
1) Attendance has increased slightly over the last year and is holding steady.
2) We have a number of young adults in leadership which is very healthy and beneficial for the church. Most recently our young adults have organized a benefit concert to support girls in southern Sudan and they have organized opportunities for people in the church to help with the construction of a local Habitat for Humanity house.
3) We are making progress in increasing our exposure and connections to the surrounding community.
4) The multi-media system that we installed in the sanctuary over two years ago has significantly enhanced our worship services.
5) On a more challenging note, our weekly giving is down due to an every-increasing budget and tough economic times. The Board is addressing this issue from various angles through regular round-table discussions.
So when we put all of this together, it seems that we have a well-sounding chorus at Green Tree. And if we are going to keep some of these positive aspects intact and if we are going to effectively address some of our challenges, we have to sing to one another. We have to sing to one another like a chorus where we are given the opportunity to sing; but as we sing, we also have to listen so we can hear the voices of the other singers. So my advice in this short essay is to keep singing. And like the coyotes in Marianna, Florida, sing to anyone who will listen.