I love our annual meeting, maybe even more so than actual our worship services. We held ours this past Sunday.
Every annual meeting, I get to see so many of the same folks, sitting in the same exact seat in which they were sitting last annual meeting. And that brings me great joy.
The opposite is true, as well, of course. I also see who is not in the same seat as last year. Some are saints that have passed on; others have become homebound; and still others are just inexplicably absent and you’ll never know why. This saddens me.
Nonetheless, I love the annual meeting because it is timeless, and it connects us to the founding members going back a hundred years.
Truthfully, this is where I see “church” happening. Sure, as a pastor, there is an electric charge I get every Sunday during worship when I take to the pulpit in front of our congregation. I am renewed by the liturgy we speak; I am recharged by the hymns we sing; and I will never take for granted the trust that my congregation places in me with the sermon I prepare each week.
But, come annual meeting time, this is where the corporeal body of Christ shows itself in all of its majesty. In our church, we teach and preach that each member is a part of the actual body of Christ. We each are the hands and feet that carry his message of grace into the world, and so in his name, we each commit the acts of love that allow Jesus to become real for others.
And this all begins each year at the annual church meeting. This is where, as a group of Jesus followers, they vote to set a financial budget that allows the church to carry out its mission; democratically elect new members to the church’s governing council; and vote on matters that will effectively guide their faith and their church.
Today, when so many do not see the need for church, or ask what the point is because after all the “church” is dying, I say to them, come join us for our annual meeting. Our small, rural, Lutheran parish will show you that while the “church” may be changing, we are certainly not dying.
In fact, coming off a challenging year and a half of figuring out how to be “church” during a pandemic, there was a palpable electricity running through Sunday’s annual meeting. One just had to see the joy in the faces of those gathered to know that the Holy Spirit was as energized and active in that fellowship hall as she ever was!
Yes, we are adapting as necessary to our circumstances, but our doors are still open and we are still preaching the Good news every Sunday, just as we have for the last century. So come visit, and you’ll know that the church isn’t dying!
Devlyn Brooks, who works for Modulist, a Forum Communications Co.-owned company, is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. He serves as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Wolverton, Minnesota. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments and story ideas.