A few years ago our local group of clergy met to discuss the level of spiritual maturity in our congregations. What put us onto the topic was research from Willow Creek Community Church that found no correlation between high involvement in the normal activities of congregational life and growth toward spiritual maturity.
I was visiting the traditional site of Good Friday and Easter: the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, an imposing, exotic, heterogeneous amalgam of interconnected buildings in the Old City of Jerusalem. Oversight of the building complex is rationed out to the Greek Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Armenian Apostolic, Coptic, Ethiopian and Syrian Orthodox communions.
William Robeson, a former slave and father of civil rights leader and singer Paul Robeson, became pastor of the Witherspoon Presbyterian Church in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1879. After 21 years of service, white members of the presbytery forced him out because of his outspoken efforts to end racism and repeal Jim Crow laws in Princeton. The congregation had to sell the manse due to loss of funding. The church repurchased the manse in 2005 and turned it into the Paul Robeson House, a meeting place to advance human rights. In an act of racial reconciliation, the Synod of the Northeast is clearing the debt of $175,000 that remains on the mortgage held by the congregation (PCUSA, November 13).