Magyar means Hungarian. The church was founded in 1916 by a group of immigrants who lived in the neighborhood right around the church. Yes, it was an ethnic congregation. Hungarians only, please. But these days we’re proudly looking very diverse. I have the proud distinction of being the first to invite a rainbow assortment of people into Sunday worship. And yes, it HAS been interesting. And at times it has been challenging. But mostly, people are very welcoming of those who are not just like them. It is difficult to find Hungarians these days. I’d say it’s been a very good thing for everyone that God seems to be moving us in new ways.
A visitor in worship just today said, “I really like the diversity of this congregation.” SCORE! And thank you God, for ever challenging us.
A few weeks ago I was talking with my Spiritual Director, Carol during one of our monthly appointments. I was telling her about how I was really surprised by the response among members of the church I serve, Magyar United Church of Christ, to the opportunity to visit and support our homebound members. Six people came to our first “Called to Care” meeting to get some training in best practices when visiting. THEY loved the idea of being able to provide a ministry of visitation. I had no idea that the response would be so positive, and yet if I had offered the possibility a few years ago it would not have happened. (Oh, wait…. I did make the offer maybe four years ago. And the congregation stared at me blankly unable to understand why I was trying to pass one of “the pastor’s jobs” off to them.)
But now that I’ve been at the church for some time, things are decidedly different. For six years now I’ve been encouraging those potential ministers to discover their gifts and their interests and to use them in serving others. And, do you know what? I think the message has been getting through. Because recently after some of the CTC ministers came to me to report on their first visit without me there, they were so excited. And each reported feeling such gratitude for being able to provide the gift of presence to the folks visited.
I am so often surprised by the way things work out as I minister at Magyar United Church of Christ in ELyria, Ohio. And what I realize is that it isn’t so much that things are happening ‘accidentally’ as the title of this blog suggests; but that sometimes I have one expectation in mind, when the Spirit has quite another. And when I see the Spirit moving in us and around us at the church, as I give more and more permissions to those wanting to try their hand at doing some sort of ministry, it takes my breath away. I often think to myself, “Oh yeah. Of course, that’s how it worked.” And almost every time it is very, very good.
The book we sell. Call the church 440-323-1221, and it CAN be yours!