We recently learned the South African government posthumously awarded former Pilgrim missionaries Ray and Dora Phillips a prestigious award for their work beginning 100 years ago. They established numerous organizations promoting care and social justice including the Bantu Men’s Community Hall and the Jan Hofmeyr School of Social Work where they trained individuals from all backgrounds to promote social well-being. Despite world wars, economic depression and other challenges the Pilgrim congregation financially supported their work. This is a piece of our history to be very proud of. It also begs the question, what can we be known for in 100 years? The answer, of course, depends upon our commitment to Pilgrim’s ongoing ministry.
I once heard of a pastor who, during a stewardship worship service, walked down the church aisle as the offering plates were being passed. Members of the congregation were acutely uncomfortable as their pastor watched them put money into the plate. After the offering was taken the pastor held the plates and said, “You clearly were uncomfortable as I watched you put your offering into the plates. Why should this be different from any other Sunday when God sees exactly what you put in the offering plates?”
God knows exactly how we live our lives, and what we give. What and how we give to God through our congregation will determine what and how we can be in ministry. As we consider the present and future ministry of our congregation, an important question comes to mind: How do we show our faith in God’s work through Pilgrim? If God were to approach us individually and ask this question, how would we answer? The answers we each can honestly give determines what we can be known for 100 years from now.