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Peacocks & Promises

On Sunday June 2, at 2:30 pm, North Mason United Methodist Church held an all church conference and voted to faithfully complete the work of the church. What does this mean in technical terms? The church will be closing sometime this year. We also determined that the celebratory church service, which will conclude the weekly worship services, will be on June 30th, 2019 at 2:30 PM. July through December, there will be a monthly contemplative prayer service hosted by myself and the Puget Sound Missional District. I will be appointed 1/4th time through December 2019 to help in helping the church faithfully complete its current mission as North Mason UMC.

I know for many that this was a difficult and painful decision. I was deeply saddened as well. And yet, I feel as if this is the best thing for the people of North Mason and for the community in Belfair. Even as a church faithfully completes its current work, that does not mean that the work was done in vain. The work will continue through the lives and discipleship of all those who have been a part of the worshipping community of North Mason.

Let me share a story about our worship service and charge conference.

While we were meeting and worshipping at North Mason to discuss the closing of the church, we received a sign. As we were singing “The Doxology”, someone looked into the kitchen and saw a Peacock trying to get out of the kitchen window. A Peacock! He sauntered in through the front door which was open and when he decided that he could not get out the kitchen window, he flew through the sanctuary and tried to fly out of the window above the fire exit door. Finally, one of our church members was able to gently guide him out through the doorway of the fire exit.

It was surreal. The Peacock was scared. You could tell he did not like being confined and trapped. He banged against a few walls and windows. He pooped all over the place. He even cried a little. It took me and the folks in attendance a few minutes to settle ourselves. I can admit that I was flustered.

As I thought about the experience, I have wondered what sort of sign the spirit was sending us?

I received this email from one of our members. In it, she names the thoughts that were flowing in my mind and heart. These are her words.

“In his crazed panic to be free, the majestic peacock, who had at first quietly and calmly entered the sanctuary, beat his wings and rushed to what he must have thought was an open window. This window was actually the transom over the exit door. With a sickening thud he landed on the carpet. Cautiously and with care not to further frighten the bird, Pete, a church member, released the door latch and moved aside. With the door open wide the still stunned peacock managed his escape. As the congregation calmed, Pastor Justin suggested we take a moment to reflect and consider what symbol or meaning we might give this incident.

My thought was how we, as a congregation, might feel like that bird. Terrified of being contained and wanting to be free of the constraints of our walls. Maybe our goal or mission now is to escape, to spread our wings and reach beyond the four walls of this building. God is not just in a church, God is in everything and everywhere!” – Lynn Soderland

The struggle to keep the doors of North Mason open has caused much anxiety, fear, and banging heads against the wall. There is a freedom in the decision to faithfully complete our work at NMUMC that allows people room to breathe and exist in a way that is free from fear and anxiety. Yes, it is sad. Yes, it is a process the evokes grief. However, it is something that can bring freedom.

Over the next few weeks and months, there will be some difficult decisions that need to be made. We will have Rev. Kathy Neary, the conference minister who helps with transitions, to walk with us in this endeavor. I am hopeful that we will be able to walk into the freedom that God is gifting us together. I promise to do everything I can to walk with everyone in a way that is Holy. If you have any more questions, feel free to email me or call the church office and I will hopefully be able to sit and talk with you.

There will be more information forthcoming about the celebration on June 30th and the actions we need to take with property and other sacred items in the church.

God be with all of us during this time but let us hold onto the promise of the peacock!

With God’s deep love and grace,

Rev. Justin White

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