By Wendy Vander Hart
Associate Conference Minister
It was big news in Arlington (where I reside) and other communities that Isis Parenting Centers were abruptly closing (see article in the Boston Globe).
Isis is not a faith-based organization, nor was it even non-profit, but it filled a community need to combat isolation and loneliness at a critical juncture in a person’s life. The parenting classes created community among those with a common life experience. Its partnership with local hospitals provided an outlet for service that such institutions seek.
Where the news was sad, God might be knocking on our church doors with opportunity! With centers located in Arlington, Boston, Needham and Hanover I immediately thought about our local UCC churches in those locales and how they might find a way to fill a ministry (yes, ministry!) gap.
Picture the number of our churches that have nursery spaces empty during the week. Take note of how many of our churches are located near hospitals with a plethora of resources for that town or city and might be looking to partner in spaces that would not cost them anything. Imagine new parents and babies finding a supportive space that welcomes them.
This is the church’s vocation – finding where our strengths meet community needs! Stewarding our spaces, identifying partners, finding new ways to reach out are elements of meeting the changing landscape of ministry in these days.
The closing of Isis and the opportunities therein are but one example of a way our churches need to be discerning and enacting ministry in changing times. And the point to engage in this way is not so that more people will show up on Sunday morning! The point is to be faithful to God with the abundance of resources we have inherited and are charged to utilize to their fullest capacity. Opportunity knocks – will we open the door?