By Bill Lee
One way to remember the past is to be involved in a group such as a reunion, even a funeral or any other reason for being together.
In fact the principal reason there are reunions, for example family gathering, is to recall the days gone by, to recall the ‘good’ times of yesterday and to renew old acquaintances.
Then there is another way that I experienced recently that does this effectively, and it requires little more than a moderator, a large roll of paper to be mounted on a wall.
And if the moderator has lost his handwriting skills because of the magic marvels that have taken their place, there must be someone who can write reasonably legibly.
If these ingredients are available, plan on a few minutes of active even spirited participation of just about everyone present since everyone has a different story as the saying goes.
Of course if you have Power Point, the magic marker and paper are redundant. For this meeting, the magic marker was the principal instrument.
The theme for the gathering “Discerning God’s Work” was chosen to review some of the highlights in the history of the local church, one established in 1871 and the source of countless stories recounted by those present, some who had lived for half of the church’s existence.
The narrator and pastor-instigator introduced the topic and reviewed some of the suggestions that might be recalled by group members such as larger historical occurrences that had happened outside of the church in the community, county, state and nation.
These events would help to place the events of the church into a larger context. Then there were suggestions about personal events related to the church such as marriages, funerals, building programs, changing of pastoral leadership roles, christenings, election of church officers, teachers who were remembered, and important events such as celebrations of the anniversaries of signal accomplishments.
There was no particular sequence of events. Anything that was mentioned was included on the large sheet of paper with an appropriately placed date and a concise statement of the event. In the case of this particular church, one former member mentioned that at one time the congregation was seated separately by gender.
The church then had two front doors one used by the men and the other by the women.
Once inside, parishioners found the pews were divided with a partition, one side for the women and the other for the men. This was a revelation for some of the younger church members present.
Other similar comments were shared and at times elaborated on by others present.
The purpose of the event was to bring out the rich heritage of the church by offering the group an avenue where the group could share common and unique perspectives and recollections,
The initial binding factor for the group was a cookout whereby there was an opportunity to fellowship with church members and invited guests some of whom had once been members and who could contribute to the later group discussion.
It was an easy way to involve nearly everyone present. Many people are hesitant to speak up in a formal setting but in this gathering, at least, there was participation of nearly everyone present. The group learned a lot, many things that would have never been recorded such as personal comments previously unknown.
If your church group is looking for a program that is almost guaranteed to be a success which will be enjoyed by all and one that requires minimal preparation, give this one a try.
Buddy Bach in Latta is the pastor of Kentyre Presbyterian Church (USA).
PO Box 128
Hamer, SC 29547