After mailing and emailing invitations, making phone calls, and inviting folks in person, I had no idea what to expect. Many wanted to attend but simply couldn’t, so I began to worry a little bit. So, I prayed. My prayer was simply that God would bring the right people to the Open House. I asked for divine appointments. And God answered that prayer.
It was a long time coming; the church sold its property on Edgebrook Road and moved into its current location last summer, but it has taken months of work to get the new space and our core ministries ready for an open house. New paint, flooring, and ceiling tiles were just the beginning. A kitchen and audio/video equipment needed to be installed, as well. Being in a new location, we had to figure out how to help people find us, so signs had to be designed and strategically placed to direct people to us. But once they found us, we had to be ready to receive them. This all took time, but it has paid off. We’re excited about how God will use us through this new place.
We were blessed to have a video message from Rev. Ken Stanford, District Superintendent for the New England District of the Church of the Nazarene, as well as the presence of Rev. Kim Richardson, who pastored the Framingham congregation over 20 years ago, to offer encouragement and prayer for this new chapter. Rev. Kim spoke about facilities as a means, not an end. Even though we were dedicating the new space, we were more importantly dedicating ourselves to the work of Christ. We are making big steps of faith, and it emboldens us to know that others, within the Church of the Nazarene and outside, share the vision with us.
Open House and Vision Share:
My conversation were rich and meaningful. Ministry partners got introduced to each other. New relationships were forged. Existing relationships were deepened. The walls that seemed impenetrable six years ago when first coming to Framingham are coming down as collaboration and cooperation between different churches, ministries, and programs is growing.
We had displays for children’s ministry, including planned outreach through the local schools, Recovery Church, tutoring center, and local and global outreach. Recovery Church is an impending reality that will offer a worship service and Bible study specifically for men and women in recovery. The tutoring center is in need of more volunteers to become a reality, but is getting closer to launching. The local and global outreach display reminded us what can be accomplished, even by small churches willing to get into the trenches. Some of the ministries and programs highlighted:
- Daniel’s Table: a feeding ministry aimed at wiping out hunger in Framingham and beyond
- Voices Against Violence: a program combatting domestic and sexual violence, providing shelter, counseling, legal assistance, and more to victims.
- A Place to Turn: a local food pantry and clothing distribution center targeting needs in the suburbs
- Haiti Water Project: digging wells and providing education about sanitation and health
- Alabaster: a ministry within the Church of the Nazarene to supply funds for building projects around the world, including schools, clinics, orphanages, and churches
- The Bridge House: Christian residential and transitional treatment program in Framingham for men in recovery, serving those who often have nowhere else to go
- Helping Hands: a fund collected and administered by Community of Grace to help people facing unexpected and extraordinary needs
We had a display simply titled, “DREAMS.” As we continue partnering and supporting local and global concerns, there are other possibilities stirring in our hearts. We dream about a “community kitchen” where people can learn how to stretch limited finances through cooking economic meals; we dream about a “community counseling center” offering free or low-cost mental health, addiction, family, and grief counseling; we dream about connecting our burgeoning recovery ministry to the local prison and inmates’ families to support re-entry and reduce recidivism. The list goes on. We believe that if God wills it, it will happen. We simply desire to follow His leading.
What is our motivation? 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” And love is the hallmark of the Christian life, for God is love. When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus responded, “Love the lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and all your strength. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.” The apostle John, in his first letter, writes that you cannot claim to love God if you do not love your brother or sister. Love is non-negotiable.
I write all this to share with anyone who may have missed the celebration. And I write this as an invitation to get involved, to walk in the steps of Jesus and love like He loves: completely, selflessly, and sacrificially.