Dear Friends,

Today at an event where representatives of many churches were gathered, a woman approached me and asked if I was a pastor at Central Christian Church. She said that she had been looking for a church last winter and that we had come in second in her search. The church where she settled is much closer to her home. However, she went on to say how much she appreciated the worship experience at Central, and how important it is to have a church like Central in the downtown area. She herself had left the church for many years because as a teenager, a gay friend had tried to commit suicide, in part because of messages the church had given her. It’s so important, she said, for people to know that they are welcome and loved.
There are many ways people are hurt by the church, and it’s part of our calling at Central to be agents of healing. I was encouraged by the words of this woman and reminded that the simple act of welcome that we extend each week in worship can change people’s lives.
Changing lives is something to which we attend especially during the season of Lent, the period of 40 days (not counting Sundays) that lead to Easter. It’s a time of intentional reflection and action that begins on March 1 with a soup supper and Ash Wednesday service. Lent at Central this year will be a time of Encounter, as we hear gospel stories about significant encounters with Jesus and reflect on our own encounters with Jesus, God and other people. Significant encounters change our lives.  How might your life be changed by your encounters this year? And how might your actions change the lives of others for the better?  Each week during the season we will be sharing biblical reflections and prayers along with suggestions for ways you can support people who are hungry, homeless, immigrants, or in need of health care.
Change is in the air at Central, with Pastor Jill’s news that she has accepted a call to First Christian Church in Coralville, Iowa. She and her family will be leaving Indianapolis in late May.  In addition, our Office Administrator, Sandy Heidenreich, has announced her intention to retire on June 30. Both of these departures will be sad for us, yet we trust in God’s faithfulness and presence through these changes.
Hope to see you on Sunday.