When we mailed out the ABC Homecoming invitation letters, we included a simple questionnaire. One item on the sheet was this;

  “I remember when God used ABC at an important point in my life in this way:” 

The responses to this fell into several categories: 


           “I was baptized here in April 2017 Easter Sunday and received the Holy Spirit. The Lord has been good to me.”

           “My mom and I came to the church in about 1980. I joined a baptism class and was baptized in 1985.”


           “This is the place where I was married more than thirty years ago.”

           “It was at ABC that I was ordained into the Gospel Ministry.”


           “Taking part in the choir’s presentation of Amahl and the Night Visitor’s.

           “Participating at ABC’s musical programs, even during stressful times in my life.”

           “During my mother’s celebration of life at ABC in 2015, I met the challenge to speak from my heart about her life of service and the important reasons for being she gave to me. Her friends at ABC on that day gave me the strength to do justice to her celebration and remembrance.” 


           “While I was a seminary student, I became a Baptist and then served as ABC’s Youth Pastor.”

           “When I was part of the Alpha program, it allowed me to focus on Christ and rebuild my faith. God is truly good!”

           “My wife and I both served as Deacons at ABC.” 


           “When I was really sick in November last year, the doctor said I would probably die. My husband felt devastated, but the church supported him.”

           “During my recovery from surgery.” 


           “During the illness and death of my husband.”

           “During my husband’s passing, Being there for the family in happy and sad times.”

           “Being there for my dad’s sickness and passing.”

           “Celebrating the lives of family members who have died.” 

Those are all important ways in which ABC has been a blessing in people’s lives over the years. To be fair, there are people out there who don’t have fond memories of their time at ABC. They may have felt left out in fellowship gatherings when they needed a warm welcome. They may have experienced judgment because of some choices they made. The Pastor may have failed to visit or reach out to them at a critical moment in their lives. They may have had a toxic encounter with a respected ABCer which wounded them badly. Those are the kinds of people who aren’t likely to show up for an ABC Homecoming Sunday; there’s nothing to celebrate about their ABC memories. 

That’s sad, and my final Homecoming Prayer is for them:

           God, please fill in the blanks. We aren’t enough. There are people we’ve failed to reach with the Gospel you’ve entrusted to us; failed to include in the embrace of the love you’ve given us; turned away from the truth because of our hypocrisy or inconsistency. But we thank you that you are still there for them. Please speak a needed word of hope to them, and lead them to a church fellowship that gets them; where they can blossom in new ways and fulfill their spiritual destiny.

– – Pastor George Van Alstine