Church consultant and coach, Susan Beaumont, has written at length about the liminal times of life. The word liminal means something like “neither here nor there.” A liminal season is a time of uncertainty, of watching and waiting, a time between the now and the not yet. Beaumont says, “life is full of liminal experiences – seasons where something has ended, but a new thing has not yet begun.” All of us have found ourselves in liminal seasons of life. Our lives are full of endings followed by a time of waiting for something new to begin. Losses happen that shake up our world and create insecurity about what’s next. We’ve all been there.
The church knows liminal seasons too. The UMC is in the middle of one now as we anxiously wait for the decisions of the May 2020 General Conference that will decide how we move forward in mission and ministry. What will the new Methodism look like? Will we make room for traditional and progressive affiliations under the same umbrella or will we splinter and go our separate ways? Much is still unanswered. Central’s Way Forward Task Force is committed to keeping you informed as General Conference moves closer. Watch the Friday email newsletters for important updates and information.
Central Church, like thousands of other UMCs around the world, is experiencing this season of uncertainty. However, we are not standing around wringing our hands, allowing the uncertainty of tomorrow to determine our spirit and life today. You, the congregation, have a solid sense of identity and purpose which has only grown stronger in this liminal time. You have leaned into the mission of Jesus Christ with the hope that we are guided by a loving and just God whose plans for us include a good future.
Several things are important as we journey through these days. Think about this with me:
First, we express thanksgiving for the past. We remember all that has gone before us, “the good, the bad and the ugly” knowing it has helped make us who we are today. We are grateful for the people who leaned into the Jesus Way and for the expressions of mission they gave themselves to.
Who and what from Central’s past gives you pause for gratitude?
Second, in-between times call us to listen to each other’s stories and value them. Christian community does not have winner and losers, we have different stories that are a part of the bigger story of God’s love and our response.
What’s your story about Central? How has it shaped your life?
Third, we move through uncertain times by clarifying our values and purpose. Central has long aspired to be an inclusive, inter-generational congregation, located in the heart of Traverse City, which offers God’s love to our neighbors and serves those in need. Regardless of what Methodist signs hang on our building a year from now, we know what signs of Christ we’ll continue to live out here.
What ministries best express Central’s values and purpose for you?
Focusing on such ideas and questions helps us move through uncertain times with the assurance that we are on the right path.
During this season of Thanksgiving I hope you will celebrate and be grateful for who Central Church has become by God’s grace. I also hope you will lean-in closer to the Call of Christ here for you. When we all step in with our prayers, presence, gifts and service, Central’s witness grows stronger and we are blessed by our generosity. We are living on the threshold of all this is to come. God is doing new things in the world. Our job is to see it and join in.
Stepping God’s way with you,