Dear Friends,

While attending the Ken Callahan workshop two weeks ago, I learned that there is a search for an emerging individuality. Certainly this applies to individual persons, but also to groups and to churches. As we all go through life stages and passages, our identity changes within different age brackets, various job positions, and in marital and expanding families. In a similar way, churches undergo transformational stages.

Over the decades our church identity has undergone some shifting. At one time we were known to have a huge Sunday school. In another time, we were known to have nine choirs. Yet in another era, we were the hub of Long Beach District United Methodist youth activities. We were especially known to have had an extensive adult education and personal growth program totaling 56 classes over four years.

Well, we still have a Sunday School program. We have choirs with the additions of Messenger Praise Band and New Voice (our youth band). We still have a youth group. Moreover, during the last couple of decades we are known for our monthly Outreach Lunch and our emerging Filipino constituency. Within the last five years part of our identity is our newly renovated sanctuary and our refurbished organ, which will be among the best in the South Bay.

So, what will be our emerging identity going forward? Some of the emerging signs are the increasing ethnic diversity in our congregation. We will also continue to be a place of hospitality and welcome, as accentuated in our special feasts on our special Sundays. I believe that we are at a point of identifying a new focus and direction.

Callahan says in the midst of people’s search for emerging individuality, they are looking for compassion, community, and hope. May we continue to provide tangible ministries for people to discover their unfolding and emerging individuality, as well as give further definition to who we are. Let us continue to offer people hope in Jesus Christ.

— Pastor Bob