A Church’s Footprint

New Year's 3

(Picture above:  Our Midweek Meal group playing spoons. This is a group for seniors that meets twice a month. We eat together, have parties, and have become like family. We are made up of people from all over North Garden.)

One of the things we’ve heard about in recent years is our carbon footprint. How much energy and natural resources does our everyday life use? How can we reduce our consumption to protect the environment? These have been the questions we’ve been asking ourselves in recent years.

Lately I’ve been thinking about our congregation’s footprint. And not in environmental terms, that’s not what I mean. I’ve been thinking about what kind of impact our congregation has on our immediate community. What effect has Mooreland had on the North Garden community, Charlottesville and even the world? Have we had any effect at all?

Sometimes as a congregation we look at the usual measurement of success-numbers. We look at attendance and our budget. Both things are good to know. We need to know how many are attending on Sunday and if we need to check on those we haven’t seen in a while. We know that there’s always room for more people in our congregation. We also need to know how our budget and finances are doing. We can’t do things without our budget and savings account. But we shouldn’t stop here. We should keep looking at things beyond the budget and attendance.

I believe Mooreland has been a longstanding, stable church in a community that has watched the world around it change significantly. North Garden is still a small rural community that has deep family ties. Time seems to go by a bit slower in North Garden than in other places. North Garden has changed, but not as much as other areas around us. And throughout the years, Mooreland has been doing ministry in our community and in the world at large. We’ve always been here. We’ve always been welcoming people into the neighborhood and into our church. We’ve been serving, worshiping, praying and fellowshiping together over a hundred years.

And it goes beyond that. It hit me recently that we have church members in all kinds of professions and doing all kinds of things. We have our group of medical people who serve at the hospital. They are on the front lines of taking care of people in emergencies and also in routine visits. We have a few who work in doctor’s offices and pharmacies too. They are also on the front lines helping folks. We have a couple of school teachers who teach elementary school children day in and day out. They make a big impact on their students. We have our farmers who raise cattle to feed all the rest of us. We may not eat their beef, but we wouldn’t be able to eat without farmers. We have our retired folks who are probably as busy as they were when they worked. They are serving the community, they are visiting the sick, and doing projects here and there. We are a diverse group of people and our influence is big when you think about it.

Mooreland Baptist Church is a place that matters not just to us, but to the community. If we disappeared we would be missed. Our absence would be noticed. How we live our lives in the community matters. Taking our faith with us to work and loving people there really matters.

We are called to be the Church everywhere we go. It could be the hospital, the doctor’s office, the pharmacy, the school, the fields, or the nursing home. We are to be a Church beyond the walls of the sanctuary. And as a congregation, we do that well.