All the best thrillers include a phrase like "If you're reading this message, it means…" It's either a plea from a character expecting their own death, or a good-bye from someone who successfully made their getaway, or a bad-guy who's about to monologue their whole plan because it's too late for the heroine to do anything about it.
So here's my bad-guy monologue: If you're reading this message, it means the new First Parish website has successfully launched! Whether you're a longtime member of the church, or you're someone who's looking for a church in the York area, this whole site is new to you. It's new to us too!
The site has been a labor of love for a number of volunteers and staff working hard behind the scenes all year, but this message isn't about patting ourselves on the back. I wanted to take this opportunity to give you a sense of the purpose of the new website; what it wants to do for you, and a little bit about what you can do with it. I'm not going to pile a step-by-step walkthrough on you, because that would take forever to read, and if we did our jobs right you shouldn't need it! What I want to do is give you an overview of the vision of the new website.
The website is very much built around the Vision and Mission statements of the church. Rather than the traditional focus of information on "what we are" (Christian Education, Governance, Mission Board, Stewardship, etc.), the new website serves to inform all about "what we do." This is a very do-focused church-what the traditional parlance might call a "missional church." A church that cares deeply about following the way of Jesus and is constantly seeking to actively live into Jesus' example and live out Jesus' vision for serving the people of the world in as faithful ways as we can. The new website is one of many ways the church has been developing to help new visitors, longtime members, and strangers alike learn about and become a part of the wonderful ways this church strives every day to be the working hands of the body of Christ.
Everything First Parish does has at its core the celebration of inspirational worship; the creation of life-changing experiences for children, youth, families, and individuals; the practice of meaningful congregational care; the advocacy for justice and mercy; and the response to the needs of our community and world. The website has been built with those priorities in mind, and is designed to allow you to easily learn about and engage with each of those components of our vision and mission. Just check the drop-down menus on the top of the Home page! What do you want to know? What do you want to do? How does First Parish live out those components of God's work in our individual lives and in the world in which we live, and what speaks to your spirit? You can find it here.
Sure, we've got the typical information you need from a church website-when are services, what should you expect when you walk through the door, what events are coming up, etc.-but this isn't an administrative exercise. It's so much more. This website is a portal for you to interact with the workings of this church no matter where you are; whether you're vacationing away, buried in six feet of snow, or if you have never once set foot in York and never will. You can be a part of our family and a part of God's incredible journey no matter who you are or where you find yourself, and we hope the new website can be a touchstone for people of all ages and backgrounds to find what they need in one place.
So check it out; see what the First Parish website can do for you. See what First Parish Church can do for you. See what God can do for you. And maybe even discover a calling of your own. I guarantee you'll be surprised.
If you're reading this message, I hope you feel the presence and the love of God this day and all days. Peace to you always.
Together, we can bring Christ's word and work to the world.