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Posts Tagged ‘arlington’

This weekend was the 100th anniversary of our church, Cherrydale Baptist Church in Arlington, VA. We’ve only been members for two months of those hundred years, but we were happy to take advantage of such a momentous occasion by celebrating with the congregation this weekend.

To commemorate the anniversary, the church hosted a special service on Saturday evening. There was a dinner followed by a celebration service afterward. There were probably over 500 present and past members in attendance. We “sang through the decades,” starting in the 1910’s and singing beloved hymns and songs through the years, and a former interim pastor gave the message. In the foyer, there was a table full of memorabilia and pictures from the history of the church.

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One of my favorite pieces of history was a personal letter from Ronald Reagan to a former beloved pastor, Rev. A. W. Jackson, congratulating him on 50 years of ministry.

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Seeing all these memories that people have held onto through the years briefly made me want to hold onto every scrap of memorabilia I owned in case it is meaningful to someone in the future. However, I quickly got over that….packing your entire belonging two times in twelve months will cause you to purge mementos you never thought you’d part with. But maybe I don’t feel so bad keeping the things that really are special to me.

Staying together as a church for any length of time is quite a feat. Churches are filled with sinners saved by grace, not perfect saints. Trials and tribulations buffet those who follow Christ, and Cherrydale was not exempt from some rough patches. However, God has blessed them and continues to use them in the local and global community. The fact that they are still vibrant, active, and Spirit-filled is what drew us there in the first place; hopefully we will contribute in some small way to Cherrydale’s legacy for the next hundred years.

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After months of church hunting and testing the waters, Bart and I finally joined a new church on Sunday.

I initially began this post with writing all about our church hunting experience up to this point, but a couple of sentences in I remembered that I’d already written verbosely about it before. I’d love for you to read it so you know where I’m coming from here. Today I just wanted to share that the church hunt is officially over and succinctly fill you in on where I left off.

 

I believe we first visited this church barely a month after we moved; it was right at the beginning of the Christmas season. We had an overall good impression of it except for one thing…it was big! Not mega-church big, like thousands of people, but

a couple of services of two to three hundred people big. Our church in Colorado was 150 on a good day, and just like a small town, everyone knew everyone. The idea of being a little lost in the crowd was totally foreign to us. It was also humbling, as we had previously been such a large part of the “stuff” going on at our previous church–not that doing “stuff” matters one heap, but we certainly wore many hats. In a larger church, we wouldn’t be as globally recognized by the entire body, but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be an integral part of some niche in the body. If anything, it’s freeing to not be so busy with “stuff” that we neglect the real important matters of building relationships and serving the kingdom.

The other negative (or possibly positive) about the church is that it’s located in Arlington, Virginia, just across the river from DC. Since we currently live in Maryland, it’s a bit of a trek for us on Sunday mornings, and it makes it hard to be involved in activities at other times during the week. On the other hand, we’re hoping to move to Virginia when we buy a house, so at that point it’ll actually be more convenient for us. I also think that being centrally located in the metro area is huge from a ministry standpoint. So location really became a non-issue compared to other considerations.

Initially, we were not convinced that we needed to be in a larger church, so we tried out many different churches through the Christmas season into the New Year. After a good bit of frustration, we FaceTimed with our pastor who gave us some encouragement and some good perspective. At that point, we decided that this church had solid doctrine and vibrant ministries–and that was all we really needed. The vast majority of churches we had visited seemed at least moderately sincere about their faith but felt completely lifeless. Finding our niche and making friends would surely come if those two fundamental requirements were met. So we decided to end our church shopping and start attending regularly.

However, as you have seen, we aren’t typically just regular attenders; Bart and I believe that the scriptures call for like-minded believers to unite in a spirit of commitment and covenant to support each othe

r as they go out locally to do ministry and spread the gospel–i.e. church membership. Therefore, we began the process of joining the church, which involved a four-week class and a personal interview with one of the pastors. Since it’s a larger church, they don’t have new members j

oin as they come, or it would happen just about every week (which is actually a fantastic problem to have). Rather, every few months they have a membership Sunday where everyone is introduced to the church at once. For Bart and me, that was this past Sunday.

So as of this week, we are now officially members of Cherrydale Baptist

Church. It still feels strange, because I still feel such a part of East Boulder Baptist Church. But God wouldn’t bring us from there without preparing a ministry for us here. It’ll take time to feel like I really mean it when I call it “my church,” but we’re starting to meet people and make friends, and we can’t wait to get more of it. We’re starved for relationships and interaction. We’ve also had a long rest from the burnout of doing so much before, which we needed. But after nine long months, we’re tired of doing nothing and feeling useless, and we’re itching to get started with some new opportunities. It’s not that we need the auspices of an organization to do “Christian” things. But churches provide encouragement for individuals in their daily lives and ministries and also have the resources to do things as a body that an individual couldn’t do on his own.¬†Unfortunately, our location is still a bit of a roadblock, but we are too restless to let that slow us down anymore. We’re seeking first the kingdom of God and letting all these other things be provided for us eventually (Matthew 6:33).

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