As you may be aware, St. Paul Lutheran Church, primarily serving a Mandarin speaking population, has been renting space from us every Sunday afternoon for a couple of years now. However, for their own internal reasons, they have chosen to move to Markham and rent space from Bethesda Lutheran Church in Unionville. This move will take place at the end of April. We wish them well as they worship, serve and proclaim the gospel in a new setting.
When I arrived in 2007, a Korean Presbyterian congregation was renting space from us on Sunday afternoons. Additionally, our Fellowship Hall is booked up every evening from Monday to Thursday as well as every Saturday evening, leaving only Friday evenings free for our use. And, of course, the Day Care has much of the church space booked every weekday. We do this because rental income accounts for about 60% of our budgeted income. That’s just the way it is.
But now, on Sunday afternoons and evenings beginning in May, the whole church will be available for us to do with as we like!
It will mean taking a small financial hit. We could easily rent out our space on Sunday afternoons and evenings to some other Christian community; we get requests for rental space all the time. However, I’ve asked Council not to rent out that space, at least for the time being, and they have agreed.
If the space ends up sitting empty, after we’re done with it by 1:00 every Sunday, then, by all means, we should allow some other group to worship here. But, is there something we can do with the space? Is Sunday afternoon and early evening a time when you and your family might consider coming to worship in a new and creative way? Are there mission projects we might consider using the space to engage and participate in? Musical or dramatic presentations? Speaker series? Learning opportunities? Outreach projects?
We have been endowed with wonderful facilities. We have inherited a form of Christian faith, doctrine, tradition, and heritage that has the potential of speaking to the lives and realities of folks who may have never ever darkened the door of a church before. And now, we have space and time to be creative, imaginative, and playful. This seems to me like a gift too good to pass up.
What do you hear God calling us to do with this gift?
See you Sunday!