What I learn on any given week from the creative staff at First Baptist is legion, and a pastoral staff workday we had a few months ago was no different! We had spent the morning in prayer and careful discernment about this pivotal moment in our church’s life, thinking together about ways in which to describe it. We tossed around terms like “doorway” and “threshold,” “the space between” that which is passing away and that which is gestating for new birth. Our list was long, when Amy and John remembered an idea learned in a conference they had recently attended. “Ecotone!,” they exclaimed.

An “ecotone,” they taught me, is in the natural world a transition area between two biomes — like the reed beds found between a lake and the forest, or the marshes of the coast between the ocean and the uplands. Translated from its Greek roots “eco-” (ecology) and “tonos” (tension), it literally means a place where ecologies are in tension. But best of all, because of that dynamism between two ways of being, ecotones are where the nutrients are richest, where species are most populous, where natural flourishing peaks. SImply put, life happens abundantly in the ecotone!

Our staff all resonated with this concept, as we see it right in our midst at First Baptist, particularly in this year of change and transition. Between one biome and another, 2018 will hold that tension even as it provides a deep, dynamic landscape in which to flourish! (Hannah Knight has beautifully captured this idea on our boards in the Commons hallway, as pictured above.) My prayer for us in this threshold year is that we lean heavily into the truth that abundance and richness and flourishing are ours through God in Christ!

We’re not wasting any time in which to live into that truth. This coming week, please join us for two ways to do just that. First on Sunday in worship, we commission our new Deacons for their term of service that begins this month, and we will ordain five new Deacons (Joy Gambill, Annice Hogsette, Kim Hovis, Sheree Jones, and Mitch Phipps) to their servant ministry. Congregation and deacons will covenant together to support one another in prayer and love. Second on Wednesday night, the Special Committee on Facilities and Mission will bring two reports: the first, a proposal for a renewed language of mission, vision, and values, as well as specific initiatives through which to live into the vision we sense God inviting us to do; the second, new information on pricing and timeline from Frank L. Blum, the contractor for our preconstruction work on the building. Please make every effort to be part of these vitally important conversations!

Thanks be to God for ministry in the midst of the ecotone with you, for it is filled with life!

Together in the work of Love,
Pastor Emily

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