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Free Transition

Dear U Park Family, 

Why are you Christian? In our individualistic culture, we tend to think that we view the world in a certain way because we’ve thought things through and decided for ourselves. Of course, that’s true; but it’s not the whole story. It’s also true that as the old saying goes, Christianity is caught more than it’s taught. Often, I’ve heard people share the story of a loved one, sometimes a family member and sometimes a close friend or mentor, who showed them by example how to live an authentic, distinctively Christian life.  

This weekend, we’ll celebrate the legacy of those loved ones in our annual All Saints/All Souls service. During worship, we’ll remember those who have gone before us and thank God for their legacy. Afterward, we’ll take communion together, remembering that we are part of a lineage of Christ-followers sharing food and community that dates back to Jesus himself. We’ll be joined by Scouts from the Troop and Cub Scout pack based in our church, to recognize their contribution to our community as well. I hope you’ll join us for our Sanctuary service at 10:00 A.M. on Sunday. If you can’t make it (or if you want to see it again), we’ll have the video posted on our YouTube channel by Sunday afternoon or early evening.  

I’ve been reminded this past week of how grateful I am for this congregation, and for your dedication to our ministry. Patricia Clark, our Children’s, Youth, and Family ministry director, organized a high-energy and successful Trunk or Treat and Chili Cookoff event.  Around 100 kids attended. Families from the neighborhood heard about the event thanks to Patricia’s diligent marketing, and they joined us for both chili and candy. The Hayashis brought a cotton candy machine, which was a huge hit. And a bunch of people decorated cars and handed out candy in our parking lot. This kind of function will help us become the neighborhood church we envision, where everyone in our part of town feels at home and knows they’ll be welcome.  

Last week, my letter covered the details of the transition at the Evanston Center. If you missed it, email me and I’ll be happy to send you that information. As many of us know by now, we’re leasing the Evanston Center to Free Spiritual Community, a United Methodist Church start that has outgrown its former space. In my letter, I discussed the details of our arrangement with Free. Today, I want to repeat what I mentioned in worship on Sunday: this transition would not have been possible without a small army of volunteers. Carolyn Roggensack, Les and Hope Law, Richard and Janet Nelson, and Bethany Hader Crabbs coordinated the effort and worked tirelessly over the last few weeks. Nancy Berry, Susan and Bob Bowsher, Barb Eulenstein, Larry and Nancy Fagan, Kathy Ford, Jo Ann Greenwood, Anne Mundt, Kelly O’Brien, Larry Roggensack, Susan Livingston, Jane and Bob Lundell, and other congregation members all helped to complete an enormous amount of work to prepare the building for Free’s arrival.  

On Saturday afternoon staff members and others from the congregation came to finish the cleanup and haul items to the University Park building. We still have a few items to be moved over, but Monday, Free arrived and began moving in. They’re already laying new flooring and painting, and they’ll be installing new lighting soon. Bethany and I are working with Ryan Canaday, the Pastor of Free, to make sure that things go as smoothly as possible. There have been a few inevitable speed bumps, and there will be more – but I’m delighted that we’ve been able to provide a home for Free’s ministry, supporting their continued growth. That simply would not have been possible without the hard work of so many.  

In our All Saints celebration, as in our Halloween festivities and Free’s ministry transition, I’m reminded that Christianity is practiced with others. I’m grateful to serve in ministry with this congregation. 

Grace and Peace,