Mt. Hope's 175th Anniversary & Homecoming Celebration
September 16-18, 2022
Amy Grant, singer/songwriter and a person of deep faith began a tradition that started with a friend in need and a resource to do something about it. Amy had recently gained stewardship of a multi-acre family farm. She lived in the main house and wondered how she would ever put to use the rustic cabins and the cookhouse. Then she received a phone call from a friend she hadn’t talked to in months who called to ask her if she knew of anyone who had a place where she could bring a few women together. She was looking for a rustic place where the women could evaluate their lives and see what changes they needed to make to embrace the future. Amy got an idea. Her friend needed a place, she had the space! Amazing things happen when our greatest resources team up with the world’s greatest needs. Born out of this connection was a tradition called, “Keeping the Fire.”
Amy didn’t have much on the newly acquired farm to offer her friends. No heat, no running water, but she did have an outhouse and she promised to light a fire. The fire, first lit out of necessity, became the focal point of the weekend. The visitors spent the weekend sitting around the fire, cooking by the fire, and most importantly keeping the fire going. At the end of the weekend Amy asked her friend how the retreat went, “It was great,” she said, and “all we needed was the fire.”
Fire is an essential part of our scriptures. In the earliest days of our faith ancestors, fire was used for gathering people together, cooking, and providing heat. During the wilderness wanderings God was given credit for going before the travelers in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light. Fire gave light and heat and sustenance and because of the importance of fire it seems to show up in pivotal moments in Jesus’ life and ministry. The disciples were called on the beach with Jesus by the fire and some fish. At Jesus’ death, Simon Peter and others were gathered around a fire when he denied knowing Jesus. A fire, needing only the three elements of oxygen, heat and a source of fuel can be started just about anywhere. Just like God’s love, you can gather in the round and receive from it. And with a little attention and tending it can be kept going for a long time.
Some of my first memories of church were around a campfire at Blowing Rock Conference Center. I remember the power of a group of people sitting around a common focal point and talking and what I really remember was us singing songs together. This one in particular:
It only takes a spark to get a fire going
And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing,
that’s how it is with God’s love
once you’ve experienced it
you spread God’s love to everyone
you want to pass it on.
Mt. Hope UCC is celebrating our 175th year of keeping the fire. Mark your calendar for the weekend of September 16-18 and come celebrate with us as we light the fire. Grateful to those who lit this fire on this mount 175 years ago, we are called to keep the fire as we continue to share love and light and life together in this community.
The youth will help us light the fire on Friday, September 16th and I am personally inviting you to help us gather around for a weenie roast, s’mores and campfire songs throughout the weekend. We will enjoy worship together on Sunday with many of our favorite hymns and the prophetic word delivered to us by Rev. Dr. Ken Clapp.
Be in prayer for this weekend as we prepare our hearts and our servant hearts to continue the work of this church for the next 175 years. What fire does the church need to tend as we move into the next 175 years of our mission and ministry? What gifts and resources do you have to share with the world’s greatest needs?
I am praying this prayer every day and I would ask that you join me in doing the same. Pray and then listen to the spirit’s leadings. We will have time to share together around the campfire!
God, who has called your people to be your church in every time and place, we thank you for the first 175 years this church has served you with the people of this community. We thank you for the missions and the ministries that you have entrusted to us. We thank you for Rev. George Welker the founding pastor and for the leadership of every minister since then. We are most grateful for the faithful people of this congregation and we ask for abundant mercy and steadfast love to flow through those who currently visit or support these hallowed halls and participate in the life of ministry. We hold fast to your promises and we open our hearts to your leading as we keep the fire of old, new and vibrant and relevant for the next years of our faithful journey. As we prepare our hearts for this celebration, work in our hearts, open our minds, restore our spirits that you might light a fire in our bellies and in our souls so that Mt. Hope may be a gathering place to worship and a beacon of light in the darkness; baptizing all those who desire to live in your grace. Increase our desire to work tirelessly for justice. How are you calling us to keep the fire? Here I am Lord, send me! Amen.
Come one, Come all
Friday, September 16th &
Saturday, September 17th
Friday beginning at 7:30 on the youth will help us light the fire. Join us for a weenie roast, s'mores, and campfire songs. That night the youth will have a lock in and on Saturday beginning at 10:00 am the will participate in Make A Difference Day. As well as other planned activities through out the night and Saturday day. All families and children are welcome to assist with Make a Difference Day & putting together supplies and delivery.
Young Adult Gathering
This will begin at 6:00 pm on Saturday evening at the picnic shelter. Students & Adults ages 19-29 will enjoy food, friends, & games. See you there!
Beginning at 9:30 am In the morning we will remember all of our members lost from May 2019 until this time. We will be meeting in the Memorial Garden for this service.
Join us for worship at 10:30 am, by meeting in the front of the church to start with the blessing of the steeple. Then we will go in to the sanctuary for service with many of our favorite hymns and the prophetic word delivered to us
by the Reverend Ken Clapp. Be sure to bring your item for the time capsule as well!
Following the service join us at the picnic shelter for a potluck lunch. Below you will see the sign up genius to sign up for what dish you would like to bring.