Just as new as old       

Our spring review of the CMC directory got me curious: Of the folks now listed in the directory, what is the ratio between those who were part of the church when I came on board (nearly nine years ago) and those who came after me?  A nonscientific flip and tally through the directory revealed that it is right at 50/50.  I don’t know the national statistics on this, but this dynamic seems like an inevitable aspect of healthy congregations in areas where people are on the move. 

I suppose each member could do the same exercise, with yourself as the line of delineation between who is “old” and who is “new.”  Stick around long enough and you’ll be on the old side of the balance.  It can happen in less than a decade!  Are you at 20/80, 70/30, something else?

My 50/50 point coincides with our Membership Sunday this weekend.  We’ll be welcoming ten new members into the congregation and renewing our own commitments to one another as narrated in our Membership Commitment Statement.  It’s a special time to celebrate the gifts that come with the new – life experiences, faith questions, gifts and energy.  Of this year’s group, only two grew up in Anabaptist congregations, a reminder to keep living out the best of our tradition even as it continues to be redefined by the new.

As great as the new is, we can be especially grateful to those who have been a solid core of stability in the congregation for multiple decades: Those who welcome the new each year, even as they have said farewell to friends who have moved on.  What a gift to be welcomed in by those who have held this space for many years.  And not just open hands welcoming people, but an open posture toward how those invited in help give direction to where things are going.

May your life, and our collective life, continue to be graced with a mix of the old and the new, both essential to abundant life.