By Pastor Chrissy
This September we celebrate Greystone’s 38th birthday with a day of worship, fellowship, food, and even some good old-fashioned fun. (Be sure to check out the bottom of page 2 for a full schedule of Heritage Sunday events). Unlike in years past, however, we are also using this day of celebration to kick off our season of stewardship. “Why would we want to do that”, you may be asking? Well, stewardship and heritage actually have a lot in common. The most important commonality is that both require us to think beyond ourselves. Heritage speaks to inheritance, something that is passed down from one generation to the next. Heritage invokes our past, entrusts us with the present, and calls us toward the future. In much the same way, stewardship requires us to consider our resources, those which have been cultivated and passed down to us, and those we have gained by our own merit. What will we do with that which has been entrusted to us?
In the letter to the Philippians Paul says,
“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ” (1:6)
These words are a reminder of God’s continued presence among us, from beginning to the end. Together with God, our founders built a church that would be rooted in the neighborhood of Greystone Village. Together with God, they prioritized mission, education, and creative worship. Together with God, they shared the journey of life and became more than a church, they became a family of faith. During the two-week series, Heritage: Then & Now, we will hear from some of Greystone’s early members. They’ll share stories of what Greystone has meant to them over the years. In addition, we will also hear from newer members who will share about their engagement and why Greystone means so much to them. Through it all, we hope to catch a glimpse of God’s continued work among us – bringing us closer to completion – as we participate in God’s story, God’s dream, and God’s mission in this place.
It is true that over the years we have experienced seasons of change and transformation, some greater than others. Ours was a mission that began with only 17 people who had no building and no annual operating budget – just a dream and a calling to minister to and with the people of Northwest Raleigh. Over time we have grown in number; we have built buildings and adjusted our ministries to suit those who called this place home. We’ve had a series of lay and staff leaders who cast visions and led in new directions. We’ve worshiped at different times, in different settings, with different styles of music and different levels of formality. We have cried together and laughed together. We have baptized and buried. We have broken bread and broken down. Through it all, God has been at work in us, around us, among us, and through us.
There have been two specific moments when we knew God was doing something new, and we celebrated it with a congregational procession. The first was when we moved from our worship space at Ravenscroft School to the campus we now occupy at the corner of Lead Mine and Sawmill roads. The congregation packed up the hymns, bibles, and other worship supplies and drove in a caravan to arrive at our new location. With a wooden cross in hand, one that had been shaped by a tree cut down from our land in the process of building the building, the people of Greystone processed into our new worship space celebrating what God had done. It was a new beginning.
Greystone continued to grow and expand and eventually needed a larger sanctuary. So we joined our efforts, our resources, and our talents to build the space in which we now worship. It took some time, but when it was completed we once again took up our cross – the same one that led our procession before – and we walked from the building we now call the Fellowship Hall to the new Sanctuary. It was a celebration of a church transformed by God. It was another new beginning.
In recent years we have experienced another kind of transformation. One marked less by careful plans and blueprints, but one that nonetheless shaped the nature of our church. In March of 2020, we began worshipping online, from our homes. Many of us never imagined that we would worship in such a way for as long as we did, but following the guidance of the CDC and our COVID Think Tank, we stayed home for 13 months. Slowly, then, we began a process of regathering for in-person worship and other activities. Over time we have regained a sense of safety and comfort in worshipping in our sanctuary but we are not the same as we once were.
Although the pandemic brought about a lot of unwanted and unprecedented change, Greystone is experiencing another new beginning. You, the congregation, are re-energizing our ministries and missions as we remember our past and dream about the future we are building together with God. Guests and new members are adding their voices to the conversation. Young people and emerging adults are engaging in ministries of fellowship, mission, and reconciliation. We are experiencing a transformation; God is making us new. And we want to celebrate that together.
On Heritage Sunday, September 11, we will gather for worship outdoors in the picnic area, where we held our worship services outside in 2021. The service will begin there at 9:30 AM. As part of worship, we will once again process behind the wooden cross from that outdoor space through the campus and into the Sanctuary. This procession will be a symbol of our ongoing transformation and of this new phase of our life together with God.