To be a Congregational Church in Michigan for 175 years is no small feat. I am thankful that I can be a small part of this Royal Oak Church family in this time. Just think of the changes that have confronted First Congregational Church and the nation in that time.
Sometimes we look at the changes in our day and think of the seemingly overwhelming challenges we face. We can look at our society and world speaking of some kind of doomsday. We forget that throughout the Bible and world history we can learn from stories about floods, war, and dysfunctional families (read about Joseph and his brothers, King David and his children). In the last 175 years the US has faced numerous wars, epidemics, and other trials. Yet in that time, there have been blessings and hope on which we might focus, too.
We have a long way to go in many areas, but slavery in America is never going to be justified again. Antislavery societies included many leaders who were Congregationalists. Women have more equal standing in society. They teach, run businesses, and are doctors and judges. Women have been ordained in Congregational churches for over 160 years. Alternative ways of living are more diverse than ever.
No, we haven’t “arrived.” The hymn, “Come Labor On” calls to us. As we come to the celebration of Heritage Sunday with Worship, good food and wonderful music and to Thanksgiving 2017, let each one of us remember the challenges of the past even as we move forward with hope to meet the confrontations in our day. Each of us has a role in being good stewards of Gods gifts to us, as we work, give, pray, and reach out to one another at Church, at home, and in the world at large.
Rev. Dr. Mark Jensen
Interim Senior Minister