April 2006 Views
My outward-facing church
By Carolyn "Candy" Peterson
HANCOCK -- At a recent "neighborhood coffee" gathering, a new friend said to
me that when I invited her to join us last fall, she was hesitant to come when she
learned that we met in a church. (This group has existed for more than 30 years, and we moved our meetings to First United Methodist Church last
year because we have grown too large to fit into any of our homes.) Her comment
has inspired me to explain what goes on in my church.
Our minister, Eugene Bacon, raised in the Catholic Church, has a degree in physics from the University of Michigan. His search for ultimate
meaning and first causes led him from the auto industry to seminary. He is an outstanding minister. Having listened to sermons for over fifty years
in Congregational, Episcopalian, Lutheran and now Methodist churches, I have never heard more inspiring sermons. I have collected printed copies of
Gene’s words for ten years. Week after week he challenges us to stand outside our culture of competition, hard work, frenetic
activity and material possessions and to recognize how these influences have stifled
our better selves. He encourages our congregation to be an outward-facing circle that sees the good in all people.
In a recent sermon titled "Salvation Now," Gene told a wonderful story.
In brief -- a family was on an outing when the children in the back seat noticed a stray kitten and asked their father to stop and rescue it.
Reluctantly, the father complied, getting scratched in the process. After weeks of care and feeding, the kitten was transformed and became
affectionate and trusting. "Was it the same kitten?" Gene asked.
In our adult Sunday school class, we are free to discuss our individual beliefs, which are varied and
interesting; but as I look at the people in the pews during the service, I really don’t know what they believe
about the nature of God and Jesus, resurrection, baptism, etc. We undoubtedly hold a
wide variety of beliefs, and our ability to work together is enhanced
because we can overlook our differences. I expect most of us have given up on finding all the answers and have instead learned to enjoy the
Antoine de Saint Exupéry wrote, "Love does not consist in gazing at each
other but in looking outward in the same direction."
When we spend an hour a week listening to Gene Bacon's words, singing the same
songs and spending a few moments in silence together, we sense an atmosphere of trust;
hopefully we can effectively extend this feeling to all those who enter
Some of the projects we support are the CROP Walk, Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project, Habitat for Humanity, Relay for
Life and Bread for the World. On Saturday mornings free Tai Chi classes are offered.
First United Methodist Church is on Quincy Street, between the Hancock City Hall and Hancock Middle
School. We meet every Sunday morning at 10:45. A nursery is provided during the service, and older children can attend
"Junior Church" during the sermon. There are Sunday School classes for ages
four through adult, and Rob McTaggart leads the children in singing. Visitors are welcome.
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