Ponderings of the Spiritual Life Director 3-6-19

The Purpose of Church part 2

Ponderings of the Spiritual Life Director

“What to Do With Empty Churches” is the title of a recent Wall Street Journal article. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, our church is becoming less empty- as in, we need to invest in some more chairs- as we continue to grow (high five, y’all!). Nevertheless, I found this article to be relevant because it talks about the importance of churches in their local neighborhoods.

“Everyone gains from the humanitarian behaviors of religious people,” states Karl Zinsmeister, the author of this article. For example, when a church is lost, so are the public spaces offering services like day care, schools and free or below-market space for local groups and events, Zinsmeister explains. Our UUCL offers its space for several local groups. For years, Narcotics Anonymous has met in our space and now we also rent to the Buddhist oriented Refuge Recovery group. The Hokori Zen group meets in our space 3 times a week. We rent space to Concerned United Birthparents, the Broadway Chorus (who then sings in assisted living facilities), the Imperial Polk Genealogical Society, and the Lakeland Roleplayers Guild. Additionally, we’re getting ready to host the social justice movie, “The Reluctant Radical” to which the community, especially Florida Southern Students, are invited. That’s many, many people from our community, most of whom we don’t even know, that are benefited because we exist.

And so, not only are we bustling on a Sunday morning, but our church buildings are far from empty throughout the week. This gives me reassurance in knowing that we understand the multiple facets of our purpose in the community. It also gives me hope as I ponder our future and our potential to be impactful in people’s lives- our members, our friends, the strangers we welcome into our space, and those who will never see our building but are affected positively because of our programming and buildings usage. We are letting the compassion that stirs in our hearts be released into the community by being welcoming and accommodating, therefore allowing for the Spirit of Life to move out beyond our walls.

Knowing this, I ask you to ponder- how can we further develop our usefulness to the community just by being hospitable and welcoming? What more can we do to allow for the Spirit of Life to brighten the lives of others here in Polk County?

We are a beacon of hope. Thank you for your contributions and continued support of your faith community. You are so loved!