The sustainability of Community LC is dependent on a continuing cycle of economic and health issues. Just for the moment assume that we continue to be Christ centered and thus dedicated to service – to ourselves and to the greater community. We are not dependent on the arrival of boat loads of immigrating European Lutherans. We are not dependent on children in our congregation as many like to think; that is a mantra we were taught in our youth back in our home churches. The native Sussex county folks are not of Lutheran background. We are dependent on moving vans of retirees for the replenishment of our congregation. That, of course, assumes a good economy and state and county laws favorable to an aging population.
We must, of course, attract the new arrivals to our door and once in God’s house the spiritual and, at least, partially the social needs must be met. There are many aspects of this whole process; thus, I would like to focus on different aspects over several weeks. Today, I would like to ponder a bit about the tremendous “change” that most folks move into when they retire at the beach. I will take the liberty to generalize a bit. The new family, John and Jane Newcome, have been vacationing at the beach for a number of years and have decided to retire in this area. They used to be very beach oriented and rented or owned a place close to the water. However, based on retirement income they must move inland a bit. Now they have new neighbors and new “jungle paths.” That is, their places for shopping and entertainment tended to be along the coast. Now they find that they are moving and shopping in different areas. Their income has dropped and now entertainment and eating out tend to decrease. Assuming the Newcome’s were church folks, they retain a strong desire to maintain contacts with their “home” church. If Lutherans, they find that now there are fewer choices and they must drive further to attend services. When trying other denomination churches closer to their house, they find unfamiliar worship and in some cases a subtle unwelcome.
The Newcomes are transitioning from the work world to the retirement world in a different culture, with different finances and different friends. Most of us old timers have moved through that stage of our lives. Knowing that folks must pass through this phase and the assimilation of them into our congregation in a timely fashion is dependent on us providing a worship and church home environment that welcomes and supports them. What goals should we have in place to improve this aspect of our ministry? Please share your comments.