Our church, The Vineyard Church of Savannah, is only a little over five years old and has a moderately sized congregation, but we are seeing our fair share of complications resulting from societal inertia (going with the flow of the world), poor personal decisions, stressful situations and, yes, the economic crunch.
It’s during these times that theological differences seem to pale in comparison to helping marriages stay intact, keeping people employed, and food on the table...all while loving God, loving others and enjoying life.
My fellow clergy (pastors, priests, etc), it’s time to look ahead and make some decisions. There are poor or young churches (or maybe not so much) losing their church buildings because they can no longer pay the rent/mortgage.
There will be many, many families in Savannah that lose their homes for the same reason, or maybe they’ll pay the rent but not the electric bill. We have to do something.
The Bible is filled with warnings that God will not even hear our prayers or singing if we disregard the less fortunate – specifically the orphan, widow and immigrant.
What am I suggesting (to my own church and to you as well)?
• Cut your personal salaries – please pay your bills and feed your families but ask yourself, “Are some of my bills really necessary?” We have to lead by example. People are suffering and we cannot live in luxury.
• Share your worship space – too many churches in Savannah don’t nearly hold their capacity much less for just one or two hours a week. We meet at the Habersham YMCA and are currently looking for a specifically “English as Second Language” church to share our facility for worship before or after our Sunday services. The rent and chairs are paid for – call me.
• Begin to shift your budget from maintenance and programs to helping the less fortunate – at least some. I know this may seem like asking the Titanic to turn around but every little bit helps.
I listened to many, many folks in Savannah who are tired of the church leaders who beg for money, own a jet, live in a mansion, and/or “fall off the wagon.”
People have less trust in politics and the market than ever before – maybe they can trust God and the Church again.
May our actions validate our prayers and our prayer empower our actions.
Pastor, the Vineyard Church of Savannah
The presidential race has revealed the deep wounds that still divide America. Current events have shown that change is necessary at this truly historic moment.
The two candidates, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, could not have been more different in their personalities and views of what America should be, but to be meaningful this election must be seen in the context of our troubled history.
For centuries millions of Africans were enslaved and forced to put someone else’s country (including John McCain’s ancestors’) first; they had the scars to prove it, and America still has the scars to prove it.
Now the most dynamic and intellectually engaging politician, who happens to be of African and American descent, has emerged to raise to unprecedented heights the level of the conversation about America’s future, and all manner of right-wing reactionaries of the Republican Party are waking up behind the times and on the wrong side of history.
Change has already happened; let the healing begin.
John Di Costanzo