For the Glory of God!

For the younger generations its hard to imagine life before Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.  For most of us however, before the world of cameras that come on your phone, there was a mainstay for capturing memories.  It was the photo album. 

This week, I spent a lovely hour or so looking at a photo album on loan to me by Don and Bette Wisniowiecki.  They are long-time members of Mariners’, and Bette is the daughter of Bishop Richard and Wilma Ingalls, the longest serving Rector in Mariners’ long history.  

Bette has inherited from her mother decades of photo albums of the Ingalls family and of the greater church family.  The particular book on loan to me was of the Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Services from the 20th and 25th Anniversary of the ship’s sinking and the loss of 29 sailor’s lives.

Its pages show the proud and somber moments captured over two decades ago as our church, and Bishop Ingall, lead the Maritime community through the mourning of this tragic period.  I looked through the old bulletins, the pictures of the consecration of the wreckage as a burial site, and the ceremonies in our sanctuary from the late 90’s.  Many pictured have passed away, but the legacy of the memorial service still lives on.

This Sunday we will be holding this memorial again.  Not only to memorialize the Edmund Fitzgerald, but to honor all those who have been lost at sea in all the Great Lakes.  I’m looking forward to helping lead this Great Lakes Memorial service for the first time and continuing this long-time tradition of the church as we serve the community this way.

In the pictures, news articles, and magazines throughout the album I noticed a few themes that I want to highlight and encourage us to continue as a church, not just with the maritime community, but in other areas of our community, as well.

First, there is a sense of outreach and selfless care to our community.  In a letter dated July 17, 1999 some of the families of the sailors lost at sea wrote a thank you to Rev. Ingalls and beautifully said, 

“Without asking anything in return, you have for a quarter of a century, provided our families with trusted counsel, emotional support, and patient ear for our problems and concerns.”

What a wonderful affirmation of ministry!  This was true of the Bishop, but also of many of you who loved and supported the Maritime community as well.

Second, there was a mission bigger than the walls of the church.  There are people throughout this photo album who didn’t come regularly to our services, but still considered themselves part of our family.  There were ceremonies and deep relationships formed around the common bond in the maritime community.

Third, and most importantly, God was glorified and honored as a result of this service and mission.  I get the feeling as I read this album that people genuinely turned their hearts toward a God who would and did give comfort.  The growth of the church or the institution wasn’t the motivation, it was all to the glory of God.

As we continue to grow our service to the Maritime community, I want to also encourage ourselves to find new and creative ways to serve our city.  Whether it’s by continuing to partner with great organizations already established like The Gleaners, The Children’s Center, The Salvation Army, or The Pope Francis Center. or by starting new collaborations with other organizations, like The Tent, I envision our loving community engaging in greater relationship with others outside the church.

As Christiane and I continue to pray for you and the ways our community can carry on the work of Jesus, we invite you to pray with us as intercessors for this city. Let’s all look with excitement and expectation for the many more ways the Lord will have us spread his love and healing in our city and beyond. 

Please, take some time to ask Him what that means for you. What are some other ways our church can serve this city? How would you use your gifts and resources? What other communities can we reach out to?

As we welcome new people and families, let’s be open and get ready to write together more wonderful chapters in our church’s beautiful story. We are more than a church with a legacy; We are alive and well by the grace of God. So, let’s honor Him as we grow deeper as a family and reach out selflessly to our community.

In years to come we will be creating many more memories.  We look forward to seeing how the Holy Spirit will continue to move in our hearts and our city for the Glory of God!  

Blessings and peace,

Rev. Todd