Anyone who was in attendance during our recent 20th Anniversary Celebration will have her or his own short list of most meaningful moments from the day. High points; memories from the day that made it to your own personal highlight reel.
Here are a few of mine.
Meaningful Moment #1: 4:00 a.m. Flight
It was brought to my attention on Monday (a day after our celebration) that Chris England, one of our newest volunteers in the tech booth was in Pennsylvania early Sunday morning. He was not scheduled to come home till much later in the day, but rearranged his flight to leave at 4:00 a.m. just to make sure we were not shorthanded on this special day. Now, that’s class.
Meaningful Moment #2: Tag-team Preaching
I can’t tell you how fun it was to share a platform with two greats. Having David Sapp and Bill Self with us on Sunday was a real blessing to us all. Yes, the clock hand-off was a great moment, to be sure. Greater still was Bill’s long overdue one-liner about leaving a former church: “I had to leave due to health reasons: I was sick of them!” Classic. Still laughing about that one. But what meant most to me in the preaching moment was the opportunity to unfurl our congregational narrative together, alongside predecessors whom I genuinely admire and respect. What each of us attempted to do individually, as well as together, was hold up the sacred and unfolding story of who we have been becoming in Christ. What an incredibly worshipful moment to acknowledge; even enact; that our story doesn’t begin nor end with any one of us. But rather, The Story of Us is engulfed by the bigger and even better story of God, which as our litany proclaimed Sunday, is itself a story of a love that endures forever and ever. Amen.
Meaningful Moment #3: The Great Exodus
Fifteen minutes, tops. That’s how long it took to vacate our entire worshipping body from the sanctuary and to reassemble outdoors for our dedication and benediction. We have Edwin Boland and our deacons to thank for that. Edwin, who chaired our 20th Anniversary Task Force, did a phenomenal job organizing our overall celebration, but in particular, our exodus. Moving people in an orderly and expeditious manner takes planning. One look at the color-coded diagram Edwin designed will demonstrate the kind of care and attention to detail that was put into making sure the needs of our people were met. I am grateful for all of our deacons who served as “marshalls,” helping direct the masses with grace and efficiency. Well done!
Meaningful Moment #4: The Prayer Circle (amoeba)
Perhaps the most powerful moment of the day came in reassembling our congregation in concentric circles around the members of the original prayer circle who gathered 20+ years prior. Admittedly, because of sheer numbers, our prayer circle reflected something more of a prayer amoeba; which if you ask me, made it all the more meaningful. Perhaps no gesture could be more powerful; no symbol more telling than turning the prayer circle outward to face the world in need. From my perspective as Senior Pastor and vision leader, that moment right then; that one, was a key moment in the life our congregation. As we celebrate 20 years of becoming JCBC, and all that those four letters imply, we now turn even more of the love energies of our missional attention outward, to a hurting and lost world in need; to a world that we are uniquely empowered and equipped to serve. Perhaps it’s fitting that we resembled more of an amoeba. Because who knows what shape and form the call of God will take on next.
Meaningful moment #5: The Bell
The ringing of the old Chamblee church bell had particular significance for many, and for various reasons. Many of our members remember hearing the bell affixed in the old church belfry. Richard Eason tells me of his own memories as a child swinging on the rope with each tug (inspired by a scene from the Little Rascals). But for all of us, the bell peeling was a reminder that the same faith and congregational courage that got us this far, still rings loud and strong! Having the Mission Possible Kids responsible for the ringing that day was deliberate. Their ministry to the “least of these” represents the kind of energies and efforts that I am convinced will mark the legacy of our next twenty years.
There are plenty more meaningful moments. What were a few of yours?
Johns Creek Baptist Church