eNewsletter Feature Story – October 14, 2021

This week’s eNewsletter feature
was written by Jim Teague,
FPCE director of communications.

Dear friends,

My appreciation of the value of perspective grew this week. Being able to look at a problem, a disagreement, or a creative piece from more than one point of view is a vital skill, and I recently got an excellent lesson in it.

One of my tasks this week involved working on photographs of the First Pres building from a variety of unique perspectives. It was my job to label them by location and get them ready for inclusion in a report.

Some, like this, were pretty easy.:

Others, like this one, had me stumped for a bit.:

How about this one? Do you know where it is?:

One of the requirements for the project  was an aerial photo showing our location. Any thoughts on where you can find us in this one? Need a hint? Look for orange roof tiles. Then click here to see if you were correct (this will open a new window with an image in it).

Some of the photos were immediately recognizable; there was one of the copy machine in the mailroom in our main offices. The copy machine and I have a regular date together every Thursday afternoon when I print the bulletins (it is sometimes a contentious relationship, but I am learning to be more patient). As a result, I knew where the photo was taken the moment I saw it. Others (like the one on the far right above) looked awfully familiar but I had to take the details of the top of the doors, the beveled wall, and the acoustical material in the top center of the photo to realize it was the southeast exit to the Sanctuary, heading out into the hallway toward the front desk.

So, obviously, perspective is extremely important when it comes to matching photos to their descriptions.

In the aerial photo above, having a sense of the local landmarks goes a long way toward making it easier to locate the First Pres building. Some of the inside photos likely require having been inside our building quite a few times to properly place them.

We are in an extremely busy and, I believe, important time here at First Pres. This weekend, we host Dr. Andrew Root as the main presenter for our All-Church Retreat. Dr. Root was originally meant to speak to us March 13-14 of 2020. Of course, that retreat had to be rescheduled after the initial statewide stay-at-home mandates went into place for Illinois just days before.

Now Dr. Root is finally able to come back. It wasn’t by happenstance that he was invited last year or that we urged him, again, to come speak to us this weekend. His message to the church — as a scholar, long-time pastor, and author — that we are no longer the dominant influence of culture we used to be, and what that may mean for the Christian community and the world at large, is more important than ever.

We may not be comfortable with what we come to see through Dr. Root’s teaching, but we can pray that we might see them in the light of  God’s purposes.

As was mentioned last week, we are also in the midst of our Stewardship campaign. It is easy to look at this “money” time as a perfunctory process or maybe even nothing more than a necessary evil to be gotten through each year so we can move on and do the “real work” of church life. As our pastors and officers have said many times, however, stewardship at First Pres needs to be more than just about how many donations we will make each year and how big they will be.

It is not just lip-service when they urge us to prayerfully respond to God’s call to give of our time (perhaps our most precious commodity), our talents (including those which might never make us or the church any additional revenue), and our treasure (yep, we still need to pay salaries, utilities, and copier repair bills… like I said, a contentious relationship).

After we meet as a congregation on October 24, and offer our pledges on October 31, we will shortly be heading into the beginning a of a new church year with the season of Advent and the celebration of Christ’s birth. As a staff, we are working to find the balance between maintaining heartfelt traditions and coming up with creative new means of telling the Christmas story.

So, what does all of this have to do with perspective, satellite imagery, and photos from around the building? Maybe it’s a stretch, but I came away from that project surprised by what I didn’t recognize, amused by what was most familiar (copies, anyone?), and wondering what we look like as a church to the God who made us and loves us in profound ways perhaps only he can appreciate from his own unique perspective.

I really hope this hasn’t come off as some sort of sneaky ploy by a member of staff to get you to hand over more money this year; that’s not my intention. My wife and I have been married for 26 years and we still wring our hands each year as we try to make sense of the balance between giving with grateful hearts and being wise participants in the local, regional, and world economies.

Dr. Root will also be offering our Sunday sermon, so if you didn’t register for the retreat, you will still have a great opportunity to hear from him at our 9:30 a.m. service. One way or another, I’ll see you then.

Blessings to all of you,

Jim Teague
FPCE Director of Communications

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