What a great Sunday this past weekend! We called it “Story Sunday”.
We heard about the beginning of our church, almost 90 years ago. It was about a group of farmers who wanted a “Second Blessing” Holiness presence in Harford County. And, they backed up that determination by mortgaging their farms to help start the church. Stories about expanding our community beyond Harford County, with the Lighthouse group in Baltimore, and even around the world in places like Honduras. We heard stories of some who were welcomed into our church, growing as Jesus followers within this community… children, teens, adults, families. Then we heard the stories of those who discovered their identity in Christ as one who is saved by His grace, and they celebrated within our church community through Baptisms… 10 of them!
If you weren’t there or have not watched it online, then you should go to our FB or YouTube page and watch the service. There’s this Spirit-filled energy I felt this past Sunday, and I’ve continued to feel it as I’ve watch the reaction on social media to the pictures and messages that have been posted, reminding us of what took place.
Since Sunday, I’ve also received some questions. And, you may have the some of the same questions, so I want to answer them here to clear up any confusion there might be.
During the service, in my short message, I talked about a “re-brand” to Bel Air Church. Also, in the service and on campus, everywhere you could see “Bel Air Church”. So, what is this all about?
This is the result of a months-long process, with pastoral staff and church leadership and several groups of church community members. It’s about asking ourselves what we see when we look at our church with fresh eyes, or as someone who is new or doesn’t know anything about our church. How do we communicate who we are? And, the result of this months’ long journey is to answer that question by saying “We are Bel Air Church”. In the past, you may have heard us refer to our church as BACON. It’s kind of like that. We are not using BACON anymore. We are using “Bel Air Church”.
Another question I’ve heard is “Are we still a Nazarene church?”
And, my short answer is a LOUD & PROUD “Yes”! We are still a Church of the Nazarene. We’ve not changed our name. To change our name, this would involve a member vote and a district vote too. Our District Superintendent has been involved in the journey that led to Story Sunday, and he gave us the “okay” AND encouraged us to do this. He said there are many other Nazarene churches who have done the same thing.
In the stories we heard on Sunday, we celebrated a group of farmers who wanted to bring a holiness, Nazarene church into Harford County. Our identity as a church is NAZARENE. And, we need to take this opportunity to learn more about what this means. So, with this ‘re-brand’, we are going to do that. A small group on our Articles of Faith will be offered this Fall, as an example. This can be for someone who is new, or someone who has been around for a while and needs to be reminded.
Why are we doing this? What does the future look like?
When we say we are “Bel Air Church”, it communicates we are a group of Jesus followers in community together in Harford County. This is meant to be INVITING and WELCOMING for a new person or for that person who has no idea what “Nazarene” means. It opens the doors to more conversation. When we are asked, “What kind of church is that?” we answer “a church that strives to love Jesus and love like Jesus”. Then, when we are asked, “What does that look like?” it opens the door to explain our specific identity, which is that we are a Church of the Nazarene.
Communicating we are “Bel Air Church” with the logo and the images and the pictures, and with all we are doing around the campus and on social media should energize us because it reminds us of how God is working. And, we want it to be appealing to those outside the church. We don’t want it be about saying, “WE LOOK GOOD!”, but we want the glory to go to God, and for others to want to know Him more. We want to offer a sense of belonging by saying “You Are Welcome”. We want to communicate in a way that opens the door for conversations with others, especially those who are new to the church and probably don’t know what “Nazarene” means.
What if, after hearing this, I want to know more?
Over the summer, we had several small group breakouts where we met with some in our church community to show them what we were planning, and to get their response and feedback. It was overwhelmingly positive! If you were not a part of one of those groups, and would like to see the presentation Ryan Fowler put together, you’ll have opportunities to sign-up for one of those small group breakouts.
In a time when people seem to be divided more than ever, let’s ask God to guide Bel Air Church to a UNITY that comes from COMMUNITY. In John 17:23, Jesus prays for us, that we would be unified. And, Jesus says that when we show unity, we show the love of Jesus to the world around us. On Story Sunday, we celebrated 10 people who discovered their identity in Christ because of God’s grace and were baptized. We heard from people who are growing in their faith as Jesus followers because of the lives we live together in community. God did not create us to do this alone. WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER. And, as Bel Air Church, we want to be a people who take our “Community in Christ” outside the church walls and into Harford County, and beyond… from Baltimore to Honduras!
Grace & Peace,