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hope for churches in stress

By Faith

In hope, the Millersville (Pa.) BIC Church made the decision to press ahead to full recovery—and people pledged to be active partners in the turnaround. They knew that faith makes all things possible . . . but not necessarily easy.

Finances. One daunting obstacle was financial: a burdensome mortgage and the capacity (as would be needed) to compensate a new pastor. The mortgage was refinanced. A preschool started in unused space and contributed to facility costs. Church staff agreed to serve on a volunteer basis. Benefactors gave money, equipment, and time to assist the church.

Pandemic. A worldwide pandemic compounded the challenge. In response, the church shifted to virtual (zoom) worship with participation by multiple households each week. Children’s stories, enhanced by the antics and humor of a hand-held puppet, were integrated into worship services. Online interaction before and after services nurtured relationships.

Momentum. During the months online, worship attendance was consistent—with the joy three new households and of guests participating from other places and countries. Remarkably, the Spirit moved during this time to strengthen hope, deepen kinship, reveal new abilities, and generate deeper commitment.

Pastor. The church was now ready to search for a new pastor. Ten applicants were willing to take on the risks of a recovering church. Among them, it was difficult to make a decision. In the end, the Spirit nudged the search group toward the pastor of his choice.

Expectant Faith. The Spirit had put in place a strong governing board, a great cadre of team leaders, and a resurgent and expectant church. With the character and abilities of the incoming pastor, this community of faith was on a trajectory, once again, to be healthy and outward-focused. As they faced the future together, still not without risks, the people sang a new song:

We will stand as children of the promise

We will fix our eyes on Him our soul's reward

Till the race is finished and the work is done

We'll walk by faith and not by sight


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