Holy Ground

The scene was dramatically different from a year and a half ago.  In April of 2011 I stood in front of the smoking ruins of Cedar Springs United Methodist Church with Ginger Bassford (DS) and Tom Beaty (Pastor).  That Easter, just a few days away, three white crosses appeared in front of the church.  Written on the crosses by a member of the church were the following words: 1) Jesus Christ will return; 2) So will we; 3) Happy Easter!  The words reflected the faith and determination of this small open country church (or as one member put it -- downtown Brad, Texas). This past Sunday, October 28th, not only was the new sanctuary packed but so was overflow seating in the fellowship hall/kitchen.  Carol Woods (West District Superintendent) and I were blessed to join with Pastor Tom Beaty and the wonderful members and friends of Cedar Springs UMC (including former Pastor Wayne Hunter) in consecrating a brand new facility. Tom Beaty tells me this highlights 114 years of continuous service in the name of Jesus Christ. Far more significant than bricks and mortar is the Spirit (as in Holy Spirit) that pervades a ministry that has been through tough times and now is moving forward in faith.  There is a new sense of outreach.  Pastor Beaty tells me that they will be having a confirmation class this year. The church is growing. The metrics are important and positive, but it the narrative of faith, commitment and determination that speaks far louder.  People remembered "Granny" Hamilton, one of the heroic founders who (as as they put it) was a "shouting Methodist."  Some twenty people were present who could trace a family connection back to "Granny" Hamilton.  More than one person told me about lying on a blanket the brush arbor near the church as they shared in a revival.  On this "holy ground" they were "rooted in the faith" (to use the Apostle Paul's term from Colossians 1).  The whole story is not written.  The Lord still has a claim on this church as a branch of the greater, universal church of Jesus Christ.  Challenges abound and Cedar Springs UMC (by their own admission) is not Eden - but it is a vital congregation that rebuilt on holy ground.