Reminder: This Sunday, January 1, we will not meet for worship. Due to many having scheduling conflicts, we are inviting everyone to either worship in private or find an alternative worship experience. We will have our New Year worship service on January 8.
We are once again starting a new year. We said goodbye to all the good and bad of 2022 and opened ourselves up to new possibilities of a new year. We enter the new year with a prayer for God's blessings on our dreams and plans.
We will begin the year with a report from the LA Voice on the possibilities of development on our current site. We will have opportunities to discuss the plan they have devised to ensure that it reflects our vision and provides the foundation for our ministry.
While the facility issue has been the most time-consuming part of our common life as a congregation, we will do our best to set the issue aside so we can focus on our ministry. While a facility is important, it does not define who we are, nor does it ensure that we fulfill God's call upon us as a church.
On Wednesday, January 25, at 7 pm, we will be led by our District Superintendent of the West District of the Cal Pac Annual Conference on our annual Charge Conference on Zoom. For those unfamiliar with the UMC system, each year, our DS charges us to do the ministry as a UMC congregation. For the Presbyterians amongst us, it is our annual congregational meeting. We invite everyone to clear their calendar and be present at the meeting using our weekly worship service Zoom link.
Being a "federated church," we are accountable to two entities, the West District of the Cal Pac Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Presbytery of the Pacific of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). While this is an unusual arrangement due to differences in the denominational authority structures, our situation has worked well since 1982. It all began with the 1971 Sylmar earthquake that destroyed the University Presbyterian Church (UPC) building, which happened to be on what is now the northern parking lot of the Felix Chevy dealership on the corner of Figueroa and Jefferson.
After moving around for a couple of years, in 1973, the UPC accepted an invitation from the University United Methodist Church (UUMC) to share the facility and engage in some joint ministries. While both remained independent congregations, they created United University Church (UUC) for shared ministries. This structure remained in place until 1982, when emphasizing their shared vision for campus ministry and progressive social justice-oriented theology, two congregations decided to merge. They dissolved UUMC and UPC and gave birth to UUC.
Why am I writing about our church's history? The journey of being a faith community is a sacred journey, but in modern times, a difficult one. There is nothing easy about being a faith community in this day and age; some might even say that in this post-modern, post-Christian, post-church era, trying to be a church is a fool's errand.
The post-modern world is science-based and rejects the medieval notion that a metaphysical deity governs the world. The post-Christian world rejects the Christian Church as the world's moral authority. The post-church world rejects the necessity of the institutional church for people to experience God's love and grace.
Our commitment as a congregation is to the historical commitment that was made 40 years ago by two congregations that decided to live out their commitment to Jesus in their common life by emphasizing the love of God for the entire world. They committed themselves to focus on the teachings of Jesus and not be blown around by the political, economic, and cultural winds. In 2023, we will emphasize our historical commitments to Jesus and continue to focus on the purposes for which UUC was created.
Our spiritual journey is a commitment to justice and peace. Our spiritual journey is an endeavor to discover the Jesus of the Bible, not simply accept what we hear in the media. Let us venture to be bold and daring to explore the Jesus of the Bible, but at the same time, let us be humble and honest to accept the truth we discover. Let us remember the words of Prophet Micah, "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God."