- Who We Are
- ALL IN CAMPAIGN
~by Pastor Mike Middaugh
This report catalogs the fiscal year from July 1st, 2013 through June 30th, 2014. As a part of the Calvary community please take some time to look through this report to see what we have been able to do together over the past year, as well as some of our goals for the year we are currently in.
I want to thank every one of you who serve in the life of this congregation in various ways. From time in fellowship, to helping with events and projects, ushering on Sunday mornings, being part of our music program in worship, supporting our mission work, praying for this congregation and each other, giving financially, and even just showing up on Sunday mornings, Calvary would certainly not be here without the committment of her people. And that is just what a church is, a gathering of people for a purpose, united by the Gospel of Jesus.
I have been with you at Calvary for about 2.5 years. During which time we have dedicated ourselves to many administrative and management needs. These include planning and carrying out updates and repairs to our facility, assuring we are good hosts to the many other groups that use our space, evaluating and modifying our programs and activities, reviewing our organizational structure, creating good pathways for communication, and determining the best plan of action for the Farm property. While we are likely to be in this administrative season for a year or two longer, I am beginning to sense something different approaching on the horizon.
The work we are doing now requires many people to review, plan, and carry out tasks, but my long term goal is not to sign people up to sit in meetings or serve on committees, but rather to free people up to serve one another and our community. This is what we are really about after all, ambassadors for Christ, the reconciled of God called to reconcile the world. (2 Cor. 5:18-20)
Yes, there will always be management that must be done, and we want to be good stewards of the resources entrusted to us, but the work of the church is not to work on the church, but rather to share the hope of the gospel with the nations.
My prayer is that as we continue in this season the work we do now will prepare the way for what’s next in the life of Calvary. While we are already engaged in many great ministry and mission activities, I hope you won’t get frustrated if it seems like we are also quite internally focused. It’s just for a season and it’s intentional.
I am confident that very exciting days are right around the corner and that God has plans we cannot yet imagine. As Frank Sinatra sang in the sixties, The Best is Yet to Come.
-by Pastor Mike Middaugh
That got me thinking, why have I shied away (whether consciously or unconsciously) from saying anything on this topic so far? I think the answer is twofold.
The first part of the answer is simple – over the past week anyone who has watched TV, scrolled through social media, or read a newspaper has been inundated with both facts and opinions about the events in Ferguson. I guess I wonder at times if anyone wants to hear anything more about current events when we are so saturated by coverage of these topics.
The second part of the answer is far more complex, and one that I confess in love and vulnerability. I, and I believe a lot of other white pastors, leaders, and writers, tend to convince ourselves that it is not our place to talk about racial issues. For me, I think this is because I know what I don’t know. I know that I don’t know what if feels like to grow up in a black community, and because of privilege, I grew up unaware of racial disparity even as it existed in my community. I know that I don’t know what it feels like to be a minority or to be racially profiled by others. And I know that I don’t know what it feels like to be a black young man growing up with odds stacked against me because of my skin color, or what it is like to be a black father who has to sit his boys down to have that other “talk.”
But now let me pick apart my own two reasons for being silent.
When we remain silent about an injustice for long enough, we may even convince ourselves that it doesn’t exist. Over the past few years some public voices have even gone so far as to say that we live in a post-racial America. But we have to remember that even if we don’t personally see or feel racism, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. If anything, this is certainly what the recent video footage of tear gas and rubber bullets, protest signs and prayer vigils should teach us — that racism and disunity, in all their many forms, are certainly not gone. The need for reconciliation continues to be great.
So what if we say nothing because we think it has all been said? One thing that makes having this conversation in the church an imperative is the Gospel. If there is any one place that racism, anger, distrust, and our own inner weaknesses should be discussed, it is Christian community. News anchors will continue to report, bloggers will write, and experts will be called forth to give commentary, but what’s missing from all of these sources is vulnerability, accountability, and community around the Gospel.
Christianity community, the Church, should be the safe place where these topics can be discussed. It should be the place where we seek to be made into better people, more whole, and more empathetic to each other’s various heartaches, because as part of the church we know one another and we are known. And while community and personal connectedness are vital for being made into better, more compassionate neighbors, it is really the Gospel that is our greatest hope for overcoming discrimination and our own shortcomings in loving one another.
So, may we endeavor to have these conversations with one another in the best, most forgiving, and loving ways possible. And together as the church, may we pray, as people under the cross, seeking the Lord for racial reconciliation.
If you were in Sunday’s worship service you undoubtedly noticed a couple of the unplanned surprises in the service – one of which was that the organ lost power in the middle of a hymn (it’s fine now). This being Palm Sunday, a lot of effort was put into making the service meaningful and engaging. I always stress about about my part of a service being as good as it can be, especially on festival days. Likewise, I know how much work Brian and Alice and all of our musicians put into creating the best worship experience possible.
Of course sometimes, as we were reminded on Sunday, despite our efforts things do not go exactly as we might have planned. Don’t get me wrong, we still had a great service and I am glad nothing more serious was the cause of our disruption, but I can’t help reflecting on the lesson before us: Sunday’s service was paradigmatic of a much greater struggle we all face.
Despite our efforts, our aspirations, and our worry our work rarely goes unhindered. We face setbacks of all kinds. We have to repeat things we have already done, and we often don’t accomplish everything we set out to do. This is true in our day to day, our weeks, our years, and even our lifetimes. For this reason, Genesis in chapter three refers to work as “toil” and as “labor”. It was not meant to be difficult, yet it is, because like all things it rests under the curse of sin.
Nonetheless we can have great hope. Over the past 6 weeks I have highlighted in this email the work of some individuals at Calvary. If you have read their stories you have likely noticed that everyone I talked to has hinted at a sense of calling into the work they do. Our work is an important, even vital, part of our lives. It is good and right for us to feel “called” into our professions. In many ways the Bible shows that we are made for work. It is good for us, just as our work and service is also good for society at large and a blessing to those around us.
In our work we will face challenges. Referencing Genesis again, we are told that thistles and thorns will come up alongside our fruit. Nonetheless, as we continue to do our jobs, we will find joy. When we bring excellence and skill to the tasks at hand, we create beauty and we represent well the God who created us and has given us our abilities.
In rarefied moments we may even get to look back on a project completed, a job finished, or a song performed and realize that it was good – it came out even greater than we could have expected. We get a glimpse of how work was always meant to be. As I have shared before, John Coltrane hints at this in the liner notes of his masterpiece A Love Supreme:
This album is a humble offering to Him. An attempt to say “THANK YOU GOD” through our work, even as we do in our hearts and with our tongues. May He help and strengthen all [people] in every good endeavor.
Note from Pastor Mike –This post is part of a 6 week series focused on faith and work; more specifically, how our faith affects the way we work and how we view our work. I thought there would be no better way to explore this topic than by asking members of Calvary about their experience. I have conducted and condensed these interviews, while doing my best not to put my words into the mouths of others.
Chris Jacob is currently working as an attorney at the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, DC. He has been with the NLRB for four and a half years since graduating from IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. Chris received his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Springfield and is originally from Manito, Illinois.
How Has Your Faith Influenced Your Career Track?
For years I thought about becoming a pilot, but as I learned more about the industry, I realized the challenges associated with getting a pilot’s license and accruing the hours needed to move up in the ranks of the airline business. I then changed course and became interested in attending law school. The more I learned about law, the more it fascinated me. I began to see how law governs so many aspects of our interpersonal relationships as well as the relationship between individuals and the government.
In many ways, law is the foundation of our political and economic systems, and it is the oil that lubricates many of our personal and professional interactions and much of our economic activity in civil society. Consequently, I see a strong connection between my faith and the way we uphold the laws of the land. I believe it is God as creator who first orders creation. He then passes on to us the ability to design and maintain an orderly and well-managed society. I believe that in many ways, our laws are a reflection of God’s laws. Just as he created order, so also we attempt to create order among ourselves. God’s law is, at its core, a set of immutable principles, that is, absolute truth. When we are good stewards of His truth by applying His principles in the creation and application of our laws, we create the conditions necessary to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of people. In other words, spiritual precepts inform temporal, legal ones. Our laws help to maintain a just society in which people have the freedom to work and succeed.
How do you think working for the government is different from working in the private sector?
I never expected to take a government job, but the position was available when I graduated and it seemed like a good fit after other options had dried up due to the recession. In retrospect, the experience here in DC has been very educational, challenging, and rewarding. The law is simultaneously static and ever changing. Many issues and rules remain relatively constant over time, but new factual scenarios and legal questions of first impression invariably arise. My legal practice has helped me appreciate the great importance of government work because what I do influences and shapes labor law and policy at the national level. I also found this to be true during my recent fellowship at the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, where I advised on labor law and policy in a legislative, rather than an administrative, context. Private sector work, while extremely important, does not seem likely to offer me as many opportunities to have the same level of impact.
Advising legislators and other governmental officials necessitates thinking in the very long term about how the decisions made will affect how the law is applied in the future. For example, how will a new law affect employees’ lives in the future given a variety of other factors that might also shift or change? One must also consider how deciding a case between two parties in a certain manner and based on a certain rationale will affect how the relevant law is applied to parties in future similar cases. Obviously, national policy is very complex, and it affects a large number of people in many different places and circumstances. Creating sound public policy requires thorough consideration of both the past and the future, not merely the exigencies of the moment.
Labor law in particular is fascinating because work is such a significant part of everyday life for most people. We spend a significant percentage of our time and lives at work and gain more from that time than just a paycheck. From the workplace, we derive a sense of value and accomplishment; a sense of meaning and purpose; and a social network essential to our psychological and emotional health. Work is also a source of one’s personal identity. Moreover, the workplace is a microcosm of our basic humanity. You see people at their best, worst, and everywhere in between. Work fosters teamwork, achievement, and camaraderie, but at times also elicits passion, frustration, and even envy. Managing and overseeing the laws of the workplace was attractive to me because of the field’s human dimension.
I believe that the work I do profoundly affects other people. The decisions I help to make in the workplace concern personal justice and fairness. This is a heavy burden because my faith tells me I should do the best to look out for the human dignity and rights of all people in achieving a just result for both the parties before me and those to come in future cases. Many labor law issues are incredibly complex and sometimes it is hard to discern what is truly “right.” The bottom line is that many of these laws affect people at a deeply personal level and I strive to be fair to everyone and to seek the best for as many people as possible.
One of the major narrative plot lines of the Bible is the story of The Lamb. It runs all through scripture from Abraham and Isaac, to the Passover meal, to John the Baptist who says about Christ “behold the Lamb of God.” Join us on Wednesday evenings in Lent as we worship and reflect on the story of The Lamb. A light meal will be served at 6:30pm followed by worship at 7:30.
In the book of Exodus God dwelt among his people; His glory a cloud that shone as a devouring fire. It rested at the top of the mountain, Moses alone could go up on behalf of the nation. He asked to see God’s face, for his full glory to be revealed. But the Lord said “you cannot see my face, for man cannot see me and live.”
At the top of another mountain, Jesus stood with Peter, James and John. As they looked on, their Lord was transfigured, his face shone brightly as the sun. Again a cloud appeared, it radiated, and they hid their faces in fear. But Jesus spoke and reached out to touch them, they looked up and saw only Him.
No one is able to see God and live. Not Moses, the disciples, or us. But Jesus has become the way. His work, his life, and his sacrifice have become the story. When we see him, we see God. When others see us, they see him. Now our lives reflect his glory.
This Sunday we will reflect on the full meaning of the transfiguration. How it shows who Jesus really is, how it changes our lives, and how we can respond to it.
I used to think only men were capable of mowing the grass. Now, before you stop reading, or start typing (a spiteful email to yours truly), hear me out. In all my growing up years mom never got close to any of the yard tools that had engines attached. She planted, watered, fertilized (with a little help from the child labor), and took care of the millions of other tasks I never understood until my adult years, but handling a mower was not her thing. The same seemed to be true of all the other households I was familiar with as an adolescent; cutting the grass was always something the husband, son, or yard guys took care of. For these reasons I just assumed that some chores, such as operating a mower, were a man’s work.
And then somewhere along the line I realized I was wrong. A friend told me that it was his mom who cut the grass at their house, and that she even enjoyed doing it. I found it hard to believe, but he assured me it was true.
Since then, I have known many strong women who have taken on the yard-mowing responsibilities. And I have known many strong women who have chosen not to. The same is true for other roles. In Minnesota, I knew a man in his 80’s who never knew how to turn on the stove until his wife had to spend a few nights in the hospital. But then in Chicago I knew another man whose wife never cooked because he loved to and she didn’t.
Because of personal experience early on, I made assumptions about men and women – who was supposed to do certain chores, how responsibilities were to be handled, and even personal norms regarding being on time, making plans, and how to dress. Then of course I grew older, lived in different areas, and collected a wider range of experiences on which to lean. I also married and realized we were going to have to figure out some of these things for ourselves (read: I needed to change).
But through all of this I think the greatest lesson is that certain roles (cutting the grass, driving on long trips, cooking, cleaning etc.) are not a sign of strength or weakness, hierarchy or subordination, right or wrong, but rather personal preference. We have freedom to figure out how we are going to handle our roles, both within the household and within our culture.
In fact, Jesus and the gospel are concerned with this sort of thing as well. Jesus came at a time when gender roles and cultural norms were much more tightly drawn than they are today. Within the Roman system especially, it was assumed that men were in charge of the household and were more fit to lead both at home and in the public sphere. For example, take this quote from Aristotle’s Politics:
“For although there may be exceptions to the order of nature, the male is by nature fitter for command than the female, just as the older and full-grown is superior to the younger and more immature.”
Because of these cultural assumptions the roles of men and women were clearly defined. There were certain tasks a Roman male would never have done because it would have been considered beneath him.
Into this world came Jesus, who, being the rebel that he was, challenged any norm which allowed certain people to lord over others. In contrast to quotes like the one above, Jesus said “anyone who wants to be first must be the very last and servant of all” (Mark 9:35), and “you know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25–28).
Jesus was not so much concerned with hierarchy as with humility, being served as serving.
Today, our system at large, and cultural expectations are still not perfect, the deck may still be stacked against certain people or people groups, but we have much more flexibility than at some points in history to determine our own roles, especially within the household. This freedom is a blessing, and something God desires for us. As Christians we have a responsibility to seek out and uphold human equality in every arena, and to always see Jesus as our model. We also have to guard ourselves from being judgmental toward others as they make these decisions for themselves – not everyone will do it our way.
It was wrong and silly of me to believe that women don’t mow yards, though I might still argue that no man could ever make chocolate pie, or butter rolls quite like grandma used to.
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8:45am-12:00pm – Childcare Services
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