Some thoughts from folks at Wash Park about why they are a part of this faith community... and on stewardship...
DIANE PETERSON: n my research of cairns, I found out that they have been used since prehistoric times. Their use varies. Sometimes cairns are used to mark a trail where it would otherwise be difficult to navigate, for example: in snow, on rocks, or in the water. Sometimes they were used to mark good hunting or fishing sites; so markers can be used to find nourishment. Cairns were used to mark sacred places. I also read that some Native Americans suggest stones are a vehicle for receiving and transmitting prayer, which can help keep them balanced and grounded and in harmony with the earth. This year as part of the stewardship campaign, we are going to mark Wash Park with a cairn. We will make a cairn to:
make a metaphorical directional piece as we navigate through our year of finding our new settled pastor and continuing to find our way forward.
mark this as a sacred space that provides nourishment to us all…and to the community.
receive and transmit prayers. Prayers for us and the community at large…to keep us balanced and grounded, helping us get through the current struggles we face worldwide.
So start looking for a stone to help build the cairn. For those going to La Foret, you can immerse your stone in the spirituality of that weekend, perhaps taking it on a walk through the labyrinth for a special blessing. Those unable to attend La Foret can hold your stone and maybe take it to a special place. Wherever your stone comes from and whatever blessings you impart, bring it November 10th to build our cairn.
Building the cairn is not the only thing I am asking of you this stewardship season. Wash Park needs your tremendous talents, treasured time and towering treasures. We have a lot to do this year, not the least of which is to find a new settled pastor. We need to provide a just and living wage, enough to entice a new settled pastor. We also have our work we continue in our church and in the community. There are things we need to do to keep up the building as well. Please prayerfully and thoughtfully consider what you can give financially this year. As we needed all hands on deck for good ship Wash Park last year, this year may no stone go unturned as we build our cairn and put all our gifts, including financial, towards our bright future.
AMY PRATER: As some of you may know, it was a chance encounter with Annie Witwer that brought me to this church. I was not looking for a church, but was new to the neighborhood and had a two year old. She told me I should come check out the Parent’s Day Out program at WPUCC. That was a half-day, once a week play program for preschoolers run by the astounding Jean Ingles, wife of the minister at the time, and the amazing Eileen Abbattista.
One visit and I was hooked. My two year old did not take well to separation, even for 4 hours, but Eileen held him while he cried, every week. It soon became clear that this might be a church where I wouldn’t have to accept Jesus as my personal savior to feel welcome; in fact, I was told Jesus sometimes wasn’t mentioned at all. And even though I have been a spotty attender over the years as I raised kids, started a career and returned to school three times, it turns out this is the only church--maybe in the whole world—where I fit and feel loved, appreciated and accepted for just being me.
I have never considered going anywhere else, even for a minute. The values we hold dear, the justice we seek and the questions we pose are needed more than ever. I have received tremendous sustenance for life’s journey over 25 years from this congregation, and I am grateful in so many ways that are difficult to express.
As I left La Foret last weekend, I couldn’t help but notice how calm my heart and mind were. Usually my heart thumps along in the high normal range and my mind is full of chatter and worry. In fact, there is a vast body of research confirming the positive physical and mental health benefits of community, play, relaxation and spiritual pursuits and we had that in spades at La Foret, as we do in smaller doses in this sanctuary every week. It was a powerful reminder of how important this church is to my sanity and well-being.
When I first started giving regularly to the church, it was $15 a month; that’s what we could afford. Though the amount has increased over the years, just making that initial decision to commit was a signficant step in my early, primitive understanding that churches don’t run themselves and that it takes blood, sweat, tears and money to keep the lights on. And we must keep the lights on. Simply put, the world needs Washington Park United Church of Christ, as it has been and as it will be. Whatever you can give, be it time, talent or money, give from your heart, and know in addition to helping the church thrive, you are buying yourself the gift of health.
JIM WITWER: Annie and I started attending WPUCC in 1991. My own family is from a big UCC church in Greeley, while Annie had a diverse and evolving church background in her family. It was great to have our boys grow up in the WPUCC community, with support and understanding. When you build a cairn, you can't have it stand without some big foundational rocks at the base. That's the role of WPUCC in my cairn.