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What We Love

Last month about 40 people attended our all-church strategic planning retreat. Our consultant, the Rev. John Wimberly, gave us a real work out – most of us left a little tired, a little hungry, and wondering where our conversations would lead.


One of the retreat exercises was to identify what we love most about Eden. As John put it, our strategic plan should be certain to preserve and strengthen what we love most about our church. In other words, our strategic plan should make Eden not less or different, but more Eden than ever.


Typical of Eden’s varied membership, our group of 40 generated a list of almost 30 things we love about Eden! The most frequently mentioned area, however, was our open, welcoming, and accepting spirit. Participants love being part of a church that is not only welcoming, but also profoundly respectful of each person’s spiritual journey. For participants, this welcoming spirit made Eden feel like home, a place where family and friends gather and support each other. And many participants were very proud that this welcoming and accepting spirit included LGBT people as well as other people who have historically been discriminated against, as well as the respect and cooperation our church extends to people of other faiths.


The second area that was most frequently “loved” by participants was Eden’s outreach programs and work with our neighbors. Participants loved that we began a dialogue with our neighbors and that they have grown to see Eden as a place with which they have a helpful relationship. Participants were proud that Eden Church was making lives better through our outreach.


In addition to these two major areas, many people “love” our programs, our governance, and our senior pastor. To see the complete list of “loves,” check out the Strategic Planning section of Eden’s website. As the Strategic Planning Committee begins the process of drafting our plan’s purpose and goals, we are keeping this list right in front of us. As the great Reformer Phillip Jacob Spener once said, “If we can therefore awaken a fervent love among our Christians, first toward one another and then toward all men…and put this love into practice, practically all that we desire will be accomplished.”


This year, when we light the candle of Love in our Advent wreath, I pray it will remind us that love is the crux of all we do and all we will become.


~Pastor Pepper