The picture is of the Choluteca Bridge in Honduras. It was taken right after Hurricane Mitch devastated the Caribbean in 1998. In November of that year, Hurricane Mitch ravaged the Honduras, killing 5600 people. 12,300 were injured and 8600 disappeared. Every bridge in Honduras, 150 of them, were totally destroyed, with the exception of the one above, the Choluteca Bridge which once crossed the Choluteca River. Obviously the bridge no longer crossed the river following the devastation of Hurricane Mitch. What changed? The Hurricane changed the course of the Choluteca River so drastically that the river no longer went under the bridge. Following Hurricane Mitch, the bridge no longer served any useful function, although by sight, it remained a perfectly good bridge!
The bridge had been donated to Honduras by Japan and it was the only bridge that withstood the winds and rains of the Hurricane. Japan even used a picture of the bridge following Hurricane Mitch in advertisements to suggest what fantastic bridges they constructed, even surviving devastating weather.
Still the bridge, while in perfect shape, no longer served any worthwhile purpose since the river had changed course. The metaphor is a powerful one for us in the Presbyterian Church. The river (society) has moved and unless we are careful, we too will become obsolete in meeting the changing flow of our communities. While the bridge remains strong, it no longer touches the river in the way it once did. In what way(s) do we continue to touch our community? How do we need to change in order to meet the changing needs of our community? What programs no longer have any useful function? What ministries need to be added in order to reach a community that no longer comes to us automatically when they move into town?
These and other issues will be the focus as we begin the Mission Study that is a major stepping stone in these months prior to the calling of a new permanent pastor. The Mission Study enables us to celebrate our history – rich in diversity, mission and service. It will also allow us to look within and without to better understand how we and our community have changed, aged and matured. Finally the Mission Study will be our first of several opportunities over the next several months to begin shaping the future of the First Presbyterian Church of Connersville. How will we remain relevant? How will we attract new families? How will we serve a community that has changed more drastically than we have been able to keep up with?
The Mission Study will consist of 3 pot-luck luncheons in September, October, and November to which all are invited. Bible study, prayer, sharing of stories and ideas and brainstorming of new ideas will follow the lunches as we learn, share and study together. Please put these dates on your calendar, bring a covered dish and plan to participate. Sunday, September 25, Sunday, October 23 and Sunday, November 20 following fellowship time, we need each of you to participate in this incredible opportunity as we move forward.