Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
In a called congregational meeting on September 10, 2017, by 91% margin, the congregation of Ridglea Presbyterian Church reaffirmed its belief that God is calling the congregation to sell the church’s real property and resume a process of relocation. This vote was yet another milestone in a journey that began in the summer of 2013, one that has been undertaken with careful research, prayerful conversations, and Spirit-led discernment.
Per the provisions of The Book of Order (our national church constitution), the contract has been forwarded to Grace Presbytery for its review at its September 30 meeting. Should Grace Presbytery grant approval, more details about the contract will be publicly released.
Nonetheless, this news is once again being greeted with a certain measure of grief, both within the congregation and in the wider community. Ridglea Presbyterian Church has occupied the corner of Camp Bowie and Westridge for more than 70 years. Even though the terms of the contract allow us to take with us our stained glass, organs, and other furnishings, we are still mindful that the sanctuary and the chapel have been the places where we have made baptismal promises, been fed at the Lord’s Table, made solemn vows of matrimony, borne witness to the resurrection, and where we have heard the Word of God read and proclaimed Sunday after Sunday. Our classrooms and our fellowship spaces have been the places where we have been fed in mind, body, and spirit. Untold numbers of faithful volunteers have put in countless hours painting hallways, trimming bushes, fixing boilers, polishing pews, and doing all of the little things that make a house into a home. Even though we have been working through these issues for a few years now, the thought of leaving a place where we have loved and been loved is always hard, and a certain measure of grief and more than a few tears are in order and to be expected.
In the 12th chapter of Genesis, we read that one day, seemingly out of nowhere, God calls a 75-year-old man named Abram and his barren wife Sarai and gives them these startling instructions: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” (Gen. 12:1-4, emphasis added)
On September 10, 2017, a majority of the members present and voting once again reaffirmed their belief that God is calling Ridglea Presbyterian Church to go from the land that we have known for nearly our entire existence. That much we know.
At present, we still do not yet know where God is calling us to go. However, we trust that there is a land that God will show us. We trust that God will bless us so that we might be a blessing, that somehow, in some small way, we might participate in God’s everlasting intention for the blessing of all the families of the earth.
The elders of the church and the church staff continue working hard to discern God’s call for Ridglea Presbyterian Church. At every step of the way, every effort will be made to ensure that information is shared in a clear, timely, and transparent manner.
As elders in the church, we humbly ask for your prayers, your patience, and your mutual forbearance. We are still operating in uncharted waters, and we are doing our very best to be faithful to God’s call and leading. At any point, should you have questions or concerns or just need to vent, please know that we are here to listen and to pray with and for you.
We once again close this pastoral letter with words from another pastoral letter, from Colossians 3:12-17. These words are often read at weddings, but we still find them to be particularly fitting for Ridglea Presbyterian Church in these days:
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
May God bless you and keep you,