“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:18-19
July 31, 2022
I pray that you all are in the best of health and well-being. I am writing to you on behalf of Imani MCC’s Board of Directors – Yvonne Walker, Renee Knight-Tate and myself to present to you a proposal for Imani to adopt a new (to us) way of “being the church.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on our church. Over two years of not being able to gather safely for worship and fellowship has taken its toll. We are not alone in that regard. Many, many churches have had to disband and close their doors during the course of this unprecedented experience. Many others are finding that their congregants – for various reasons – are not returning to churches whose doors are now open.
While we were unable to worship together in person, God was still speaking, clearly and prophetically, to countless churches and their leaders letting us know that we would not be returning to our “normal” routines post-pandemic. We sensed that a change was in the atmosphere; that God would be calling us to new and different forms of service. Imani’s leadership has been praying fervently for discernment and for God to give us a new, updated vision for our church according to God’s will and from God’s own heart.
After several months of intense prayer, fasting and discussion, we believe we have discerned a way forward; a way that will promote our spiritual revival and growth; facilitate much-needed balance in our busy and often stressful lives; and bring us more in line than we’ve ever been with the Lord’s will for us to be engaged in actively serving others.
We propose to adopt an operational model whereby we would hold worship services twice a month – on the first and third Sundays of each month. On the second and fourth Sundays, it would be our policy to encourage our members and attenders to enjoy some form of Sabbath observance.
To be clear, here’s what we mean by that. We know that there are many things that feed and nurture our spirits besides going to church. It’s likely that one reason that church attendance isn’t rebounding in many churches is the pandemic created the time, the opportunity and the need for regular church-goers to find other ways of maintaining their spiritual and emotional health. Sabbath activities, as we’re using that term, can be virtually anything that feeds your soul – spending time with partners, family and/or friends, spending time alone or in communion with God, enjoying nature, enjoying a favorite hobby, having fun, or staying in bed all day resting – whatever your spirit calls for on a given day.
Of course, we deeply appreciate and affirm the value of worshipping together in community. So, on the first and third Sundays we hope that you will not forsake assembling ourselves together for Spirit-led and Spirit-filled corporate worship. Our intent is to explicitly support and encourage a healthy balance between worship, self-care, and taking time for other beneficial activities by reducing the amount of time we ask you to spend at church.
We propose that on the fifth Sundays, when they occur, instead of having a worship service, we will work together on service projects whereby we will do something for somebody other than ourselves. That is a huge part of the mission of the Church. Jesus made it very clear that what we do “for the least of these” we do for Him; and what we fail to do “for the least of these” we fail to do for Him. This is an area, Beloved, where we have a real growth opportunity; and I whole-heartedly believe that God is calling us to it in this season.
Notice of Congregational Meeting
There will be a special congregational meeting on Sunday, August 21, 2022, at 1:00 p.m. to give everyone who cares about the future of this church the opportunity to participate in this process. It will be a “hybrid” meeting, meaning the church will be open for in-person attendance and we will also be on Zoom. According to our by-laws, any member, attender, or interested friend may participate in the discussion. That role is very important, as non-voters may have questions or comments that will lead to greater clarity for all of us; and might even influence how some members vote. Only registered members of Imani will be able to vote to approve or disapprove this proposal.
Attendance and participation at Imani have been extremely low since we re-opened. In some cases, we don’t know who intends to return, and who has moved on without intention to return to Imani. Because of that, this proposal will pass, or not, by the majority vote of those members who are present at this meeting (either in person or on Zoom) or have notified us that they can’t attend, but are planning to return to active status. We will accept votes from members who attend via Zoom and from those who plan to return. However, it will not be possible for those votes to be anonymous. If you aren’t willing to waive anonymity, it will be necessary for you to attend in person. If approved, we will transition to the new operational model effective the first Sunday in September. In no more than one year, we will hold another meeting to evaluate how this model is working for us.
Please give this proposal prayerful consideration; and please feel free to get in touch with any of the Board members with any questions or concerns.
Yours in Christ’s Service,
Pastor Marilyn Bowens