by Christian Ruch
On February 1, 2004 a small group of brave people gathered at our house in Hopkins for the first ever Church of the Cross worship service (although at that point we were just called “Minnesota Anglican Church Plant.” ) A group of us had met together over the last few months to discuss the vision of starting an Anglican church in the Twin Cities–covering topics like our mission and values; Anglican distinctives; the Biblical mandate and model for church planting; and God’s heart for lost people. This small group had grown from 9, at our first meeting in November, to 24 by the time of that first worship service.
That worship service in many ways looked similar to Cross’s worship services today: Enthusiastic participatory singing (although the worship team consisted of only one person, Paul Calvin, on acoustic guitar), a sermon (given very nervously by me, in dire fear that my new congregation wouldn’t like my preaching and would soon be looking for a different church), a children’s ministry time (in our kids’ bedroom); and the celebration of the Eucharist (with a desk for the altar and a bottle of Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s for the wine). Even the bulletins were somewhat similar, but not nearly as nicely formatted or well folded (that was our children’s Saturday evening job).
There are other, perhaps less obvious, similarities between that first worship service and our church today. It was an opportunity for those who were new to the Anglican liturgy to experience it and learn its significance. It was a time for us to grow closer as a community–although we had grown in friendship through our planning meetings, we grew in greater unity that day as we sang, heard God’s word, and received communion together. It was a time to acknowledge together the vital importance of children to the life of our church–both through preparing a special lesson for them, but through considering them as members of our church (although it’s not hard for a church planter to be convinced to count as many people as he can). And just as we do every Sunday, we came into God’s presence in a powerful way as we joined our voices with angels, archangels and all the company of heaven to sing praises to Jesus our King.
Many things have changed since that first Sunday worship service–it’s a lot harder now to share the Peace of Christ with every other person in the service, we can’t all gather around our dining room table for a meal after the service, and the children would no longer all fit in one of our bedrooms. But quite honestly I am as excited and as full of expectation to see how God works on a Sunday morning today, as I was on that Sunday ten years ago.
For all of you who were there 10 years ago, thanks for staying part of Church of the Cross (or going on to help start Church of the Redeemer in St. Paul). For those of you who have joined us since then, please know that you are an answer to prayers that were prayed during the very first Prayers of the People of Church of the Cross (“Please send more people God! Please! Hear our Prayer!”).
Next week in the blog I will share some thoughts around why, as we approach our 10 year birthday, it’s helpful for us to look back and remember how this church began.