Reimagining Church

Thriving Congregations Initiative: New Models for the 21st Century

November at Cornerstone Community Church

By Sutton Smith

November is a busy time for a typical United Methodist Church, and an even busier one for Cornerstone Community Church. In the month of November, Methodist churches have annual Charge Conferences, nominating and electing church members to serve on various boards and committees. One member of our working group was elected Chair of the Church Council, and another as the congregation’s Lay Leader. It’s an exciting time for dedicated laity whose time and energy are the fuel for the engine of the local church. 

Also in November was Cornerstone’s biggest event of the year: the annual Thanksgiving Lunch. One of our working group members was the lunch’s organizer this year, and she spent countless hours in the months and weeks leading up to the lunch recruiting volunteers, looking for sponsors, and ordering food. The Thanksgiving Lunch is a proud Cornerstone tradition when the congregation comes together for a meal and invites hundreds of people from the Norwalk community. This year’s lunch felt particularly special, as it was the first sit-down meal since before the pandemic. I was fortunate enough to attend the Thanksgiving Lunch and bear witness to the joyful day. There were volunteers speeding around with turkey hats on their heads, folks laughing and talking around tables, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts ready to help out, Norwalk City Council representatives greeting people, and hundreds of plates of food shared with hungry people.  

To make November even busier, members of Cornerstone’s working group came to Yale Divinity School to spend a day with Rev. Tyler Sit, one of Reimagining Church’s visionary leaders for the year. Tyler brought wonderful energy to the day, engaging each church and sharing compelling stories from his own congregation. In his book Staying Awake: The Gospel for Changemakers, Tyler invites Christians and churches into a new way of being the church—one that centers those who have long been cast to the margins. Tyler’s practical approach to trying out ideas has inspired Cornerstone’s working group these past several weeks. 

In our final meeting before Christmas break, the Cornerstone working group talked through ideas for how the church could best serve the Norwalk community. They considered the needs particular to Norwalk and the resources Cornerstone could offer. They talked about the gifts and assets at Cornerstone and the ways each of them saw value in the church’s identity within the community. After talking through some practical examples of how Cornerstone could serve Norwalk, the group decided to use the next month as a time of intentional discernment. When we reconvene in January, I will be eager to see where the Holy Spirit’s inspiration has taken the working group as we prepare for the second half of our time together. 

Image | Estée Janssens on Unsplash