Pastor's letter

Dreaming about the future

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future with hope.” —Jeremiah 29:11

Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

It has been one month since I unpacked my books onto the shelves in the office and preached my first sermon from the pulpit here at 273 Summer Street. In these first weeks, I have also been out of the office and in the community. I have participated in a march, visited members at home, attended meetings in the city, and connected with partners from around our presbytery. I am excited about the ministries we are already doing together and see many possibilities for the future.

Before my arrival, this congregation discerned God's call for our future together, and I am working to help us live out that call. You have envisioned a ministry that feeds people's physical and spiritual hunger. St. Paul's Kitchen is thriving at Eliot, serving over 100 people every night. This Advent, I will lead Bible study groups to help us wait with expectancy, even amid the holiday bustle. You have envisioned deeper cross-cultural understanding and friendships. We are experimenting with translation in worship and intentionally seeking to know one another better. I was pleased to see diverse members of Eliot attend the march in support of justice for Anye and all students at Lowell High. You have envisioned the church building as a community center for our neighbors. I have been communicating with Lowell Transitional Living Center, Merrimack Valley Project, UMass Lowell, and local artists to explore opportunities for deeper and richer partnership.

As we dream about the future, we must also ask what this future requires of us. Feeding our spiritual hunger will require us to invest time in study of Scripture and the discipline of prayer. Feeding our hungry neighbors will mean sharing our time and also opening our hearts to their struggles. Growing in cultural understanding will require us to shed some of our expectations for how things are "supposed to be" and become open to new ways of worshipping, meeting, thinking, listening, and doing. Becoming a community center may require modifications to our building. In every case, if we wish to live into our calling, we must commit to it fully – with our time, our talents, and our financial resources.

On behalf of the future that God is promising, I am asking you to pray fervently and think deeply about how you can give to the ministry of the gospel at Eliot Presbyterian Church. Can you devote more time to your spiritual life? Do you have a talent that will bless your neighbors in need? Can you celebrate the complicated side of diversity? Can you give more generously of your financial resources?

Through 2015, by drawing from our modest reserve funds, we have been able to overcome a deficit of approximately $15,000. This model is necessary at this time, but is not sustainable in the long term. There is no room to cut our already lean budget. If we hope to answer God's call for the future, the people of Eliot church must think creatively and give generously.

During worship on Sunday, Nov. 22, you will have the opportunity to make your commitment to the ministry of this congregation in 2016. By pledging your financial support, you enable the leaders of Eliot Presbyterian Church to plan how we will move into God's future. The gift given in faith, whatever its size, will be used by God for building up the Kingdom.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Heather Prince Doss