This rainy season we are learning about the integrity of our dams and levees. Most of us did not think about them much during the years of drought. Thankfully, some people did and continued to inspect and strengthen them when they were not stressed so they would hold when the storms came. Of course, there are still some levees that have been breached and some dams that threaten to fail because they were not maintained well and/or we have rainfall that far exceeded expectations.
People who remember the floods of 1997 or other years of severe storms have shared the lessons they learned then. Hopefully we will learn and act on the lessons learned this year also.
One of the reasons Pioneer Church is no longer down on 6th Street is because of the floods and storms of the past. Our church building was moved to what was perceived as higher and safer ground.
Through the 168-year history of Pioneer Church we have faced other kinds of storms besides those stirred up by nature. Questions of slavery had to include both Native Americans and Africans. Xenophobia found in the Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese Internment and immigration legislation had to be confronted on personal and institutional levels.
Theological storms came early with the publication of Darwin’s “Origin of Species” and the creation vs. evolution controversies it spawned. More recently stances on ordination without regard to sexual orientation and supporting marriage equality are storms Pioneer has faced.
No doubt there have been storms created by fiscal decisions, the conduct of ministers and elected officers, and changes in the focus of the church’s mission and ministry. We haven’t survived as a church this long without facing such storms.
We cannot prevent all storms, even when they are created by human conduct. We can learn from them, however. We can take the lessons learned and act on them to build a better and more durable church.
With wisdom from the past and courage for the future we can live long and prosper in the work God has given us to do.