You would be right on target for thinking that Sligo’s Homecoming service on Friday evening was a family sing-along, with several trips down memory lane. Led by Sligo’s Board chair, Steve Chavez, those present indulged in singing old favorites such as ‘The Captain Calls for You’ and ‘Brighten the Corner Where You Are.’ Some articulated why they considered Sligo their spiritual home and the kind of church they wanted Sligo to be in the future. This warm and intimate service showed much of what Sligo is all about – mission, friendship, acceptance and service.
Teachers for the adult Sabbath School classes got a day off as Roy Adams, former Associate Editor of the Advent Review, led an engaging discussion on the week’s lesson, The Apostolic Example. The Apostles’ confidence in sharing the gospel, their desire to please God at all times and their caring and compassionate disposition were presented as qualities that should characterize the lives of modern day disciples.
Sligo’s senior pastor from 2000 to 2005 and Homecoming special guest speaker, Peter Bath, seemed at home in both the 8:45 and 11:15 worship services, in recalling some of his memorable ministry experiences at Sligo and in urging worshippers not to turn away from that which challenges spiritually, ethically, or personally. He lamented the fact that the tendency of Americans to turn away from that which challenges is harming the country in numerous ways and encouraged his hearers not to turn away from presenting Christ to the community in a practical and constructive manner. “We have not been saved to wait for the kingdom. The kingdom of God is already here,” Bath stressed. He cited first elder, Erwin Mack’s work in ensuring that street crossing in some areas of Langley Park and Takoma Park is less dangerous than was the case previously as real kingdom work. Bath challenged worshippers individually and corporately to find practical ways to make a positive difference in the community. The baptism of Lawrence Stoll, who first attended Sligo during the Resurrection Weekend earlier this year, highlighted the external focus of the church’s mission.
Senior pastor, Charles Tapp, in his tithe and offering appeal, reminded worshippers pictorially of what the sanctuary was like before the recent renovations and paid tribute to Peter Bath for his vision and work in leading the renovation efforts. In an impassioned plea Tapp asked each member to commit to paying off the $643,000 balance on the renovation loan by the end of the year, that the church, being free of that obligation, would be able to provide financial resources for its priorities.
A Sligo Church Homecoming would not be complete without an International Luncheon. Takoma Academy gym was transformed into a mammoth dining hall where close to 800 people were able to choose from scores of dishes from around the world. “The food is good,” said Shane Kelly as he surveyed the gastronomic bounty and inhaled the pleasant smells, “but I am really here for the fellowship.” No doubt, many would identify with his sentiments, as was evident from the effusive backslapping, warm embraces and hearty handshakes.
Did Pastor Bath know about the plans for outreach and evangelism before they were unfolded on Sabbath afternoon by Paolo Esposito, Sligo’s pastor for media and outreach? Many elements in the plan mirrored some of the suggestions for outreach made by Pastor Bath earlier in the day. The plans, which the pastoral staff worked on together and dubbed, “Hope for Washington,” envisions a cycle of evangelism, starting in September 2012, that involves mass distribution of literature, humanitarian work in the community, home Bible studies and a reaping campaign.
It was left to David Griffiths and his community choir to bring down the curtain on Homecoming 2012. “I felt as if I was worshipping,” was a comment that would have gladdened David’s heart, as he himself described the concert on Sabbath evening as a praise and worship experience. Attendees were treated to thunderous renditions of Deep River and O Happy Day, along with a number of contemporary pieces.
Sligo will not turn away from whatever it takes to ensure that it is at the heart of kingdom living, where lives are impacted positively for time and for eternity. That’s the future!
Don W McFarlane
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