Begin the season of Lent on Wednesday evening, 7:00 p.m., on March 5, with a quiet time of reflection, prayer, worship, and meditation. Pastors B. J. Beu and Mary Scifres will lead us in Taize-style music and offer ashes in preparation for this special season of prayer and introspection in preparation for the glorious celebration of Easter next month. We welcome our neighbors from Laguna Beach United Methodist Church, whose choir will also bless our worship time together. Please join us!
Neighborhood Congregational Church is blessed by your donations of time, money, and in-kind gifts from many generous givers. Click on the Donate linke on the left column to donate electronically, or drop your check or cash gift in the Sunday offering plate or church office any time the Spirit leads you. Want to donate a stock or annuity? Want to include NCC in your estate planning? Want to set up an automatic debit from your checking account? Want to donate with a credit card? We can accept any of these methods of generosity. Contact the church office at 949-494-8061 with your donation questions, and we will help you find the easiest path for your charitable gifts to support the ministries of this church and the needs of our community. Thank you for your wonderful support!
We celebrated and honored pets Saturday, December 14 at 2:00 p.m. in the church courtyard. Neighborhood Church’s Annual Blessing of the Animals takes place each December to celebrate not only our animals, but the animals who are such a vivid part of the Christmas story. Rev. B. J. Beu will host the Ceremony for Blessing of the Animals in the church courtyard, surrounded by its beautiful Transition Laguna gardens. Bring your pet, your pets, or even a photo of your beloved furry friend for this special time to honor and celebrate the gifts pets bring to our lives. All are welcome at this free event of blessing and celebration!
“If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.” –Thomas Aquinas
When I started my call at Fox Island UCC, the first reality I faced was that the congregation had outgrown its building. Forty years prior to my arrival, the congregation had had the foresight to purchase 5 acres of land in the center of the island—land with a gorgeous view of McNeil Island and the Olympic Mountains. But building a new church inevitably meant selling the historic, waterfront chapel on Echo Bay. For forty years, the congregation had been divided on whether to preserve the church’s historic building or move bravely into Christ’s promised future. As long as the conversation was based on whether the congregation should build or not, the congregation was stuck. Through much prayer and dialogue, the congregation decided to sell the chapel to the community who would run it as a wedding chapel, thereby preserving its history and the legacy of those who went before. One thing that helped ease the pain of leaving the chapel was moving the bell to the new church.
As I listen to recent concerns of making changes to the aesthetics of NCC—whether it is moving the Joyce Clark mosaics from the lower narthex to the sanctuary, or moving the Madonna and Child tile piece from the entrance of Bridge Hall to another location—I hear echoes of those earlier discussions at Fox Island. My experience tells me that as long as the conversation centers around our personal preferences, the church ends up with winners and losers. Even if we have a congregational vote, with the majority deciding what should be done, we still end up with winners and losers if the question is about personal preferences.
The discussion needs to shift toward a larger conversation of the future Christ is calling our church into. Is the highest aim of our church to preserve the aesthetic legacy of our founding members, or is larger than that? I would submit that our highest aim is to grow our fellowship by reaching out to our community, while simultaneously honoring the efforts of those who went before us.
Laguna Beach has always been an artist’s community. Is there a way to use aesthetics as a tool to reach people in our community for whom beauty is a holy value? When we advertised the formation of an Arts Committee, about 20 people showed up with passion and purpose for this venture. There is a reason Plato defined God as: The One, the True, and the Beautiful. As I understand it, the church used to have quite a bit of very fine art that was sold to help pay our bills. If this is so, reintroducing church art is not a radically new idea.
No one is in favor of discarding our artistic treasures. The question is one of placement and branding. The mosaics are mostly lost in the seldom-used lower narthex, and the Madonna and Child piece in the entryway to Bridge Hall does not accurately brand our church to visitors. I truly do understand people’s attachment to art in existing locations. My question, however, is this: Given the energy and enthusiasm from new and long-term members for the artistic beauty of the church, is it a higher value to roll with that energy and see if we can build on it, or is it a higher value to keep the art where it is, knowing it will likely dampen that new energy and enthusiasm down? To put it in Aquinas’ language: Is it a higher value to preserve the ship or let it sail the seas?
Yours on the journey, Pastor B. J. Beu
Easter Sunday Celebrations
6:30 AM Easter Sunrise Worship, Alta Laguna Park
10:00 AM Easter Sunday Worship, Neighborhood Church Sanctuary
11:15 AM Easter Egg Hunt on Church Playground
Hosted by Neighborhood Congregational Church
340 St. Ann’s Drive, Laguna Beach
949-494-8061 for more information