Restoring walls of faith
By A. Ray Lee
As Lebanon neared its 150th anniversary, walls that had been erected through faith and by the dedicated efforts of past generations were gradually eroding, threatening the integrity of the church facilities.
It seemed to me, as one who had been aware of the condition of the church and its people from my childhood and now as pastor, those widening cracks zigzagging between the broken bricks and mortar – reaching from the foundation to the eaves – with corresponding damage within were symbolic of the neglected and complacent faith of its members.
The church had ministered to its community and had reached out to the world through strong mission involvement and support. Over the years, its mission gifts had been substantial. Numerous young men and women had come from its fellowship to serve around the world. At the time, seven active pastors had come from its family.
But through the years, the church had become complacent, and its light of faith had dimmed. Its walls needed restoring, and its vision needed renewing.
It seemed wise to me that we combine two efforts to deal with the situation. On Decoration Day in May, we observed Homecoming 2000 to celebrate and review the history of the church.
The building was packed as people whose lives had been touched by its ministry then moved away came back to be a part of the day. For many, it was a day of renewal.
Homecoming was followed by a successful capital funds drive, which provided more than enough funds to repair the building without reducing funding for ongoing ministries and missions.
Meanwhile Creu Alta, our partnership church in Spain, was facing a similar challenge. In three years it would mark its 50th anniversary. Its building, located in the historic section of Old Sabadell, had failed to pass the latest annual safety inspection required by the city.
Major repairs would be necessary in the near future for the congregation to continue to use it as a worship center and a base for ministry.
Creu Alta was a visionary congregation with many young families in its membership and had a strong desire for an expanding ministry. Two options were open before them. Each had its challenges.
They could restore their present facilities, but city codes demanded that no structural changes could be made to accommodate any expanded ministries, or they could search for a new location where they would not be restricted in desired facilities. Either option would be very costly.
Creu Alta made the decision to relocate. They faced an uphill battle to secure funding. The banks worried about what they would do if the loan went into default. They weren’t sure they would be able to foreclose on a church.
The faith of the congregation prevailed, and the funds to relocate were obtained.
Two mission trips to assist in constructing the new church building and a final trip to attend its dedication followed, restoring the walls of faith and cementing the ties of friendship.