Annual Meeting Recap: Ceasing Worship at Christ South
Pastor Scott - January 29, 2023
In case you missed it, the annual meeting on January 29 was one of the largest we’ve seen, and one of the most emotional. No matter how one voted, it was a sad moment for everyone.
After six years of prayer, investment, hard work and faithful service, the congregation of Christ Lutheran regrettably voted to cease worship at Christ South. In 2016, we cast the vision alongside the North Carolina Synod and the ELCA to find new ways of multiplying the vitality of a larger church in starting new worship venues. Prior to Covid, this venture proved to be successful with an average worship attendance quickly reaching 125. In anticipation of continual increased attendance and participation, we purchased 12 acres of land, raised money, and secured an architect for the design of a worship center.
Covid proved to be devastating to that young mission start. Without being able to meet for two years, these newly churched individuals no longer remained connected despite our efforts of providing online worship and fellowship. Furthermore, Pastor Matt, the mission developer who started Christ South, also left, leaving an even smaller remnant.
Pastor Ryan worked hard for over a year to maintain stability and a vibrant future. We continue with plans to build. However, with a fledgling attendance that averaged less than 50 per Sunday and finances that could not support the mission, the motion was made and passed at the annual meeting on January 29 to cease worship.
“Cease worship.” Those words were carefully chosen. I believe the vision of a larger church starting new campuses is a good and strong one. My hope is that the community of Christ South will continue with South Sisters, South Men and several other small groups. But the vision as it unfolded, compacted by Covid, clearly was not working despite all of our prayers, long hours and investment. As difficult a decision as this was for everyone, I believe it was the right one.
A couple of questions were raised. First, about the land. We plan on keeping the land for now and will most likely at a future date put together a task force to explore various options for ministry and outreach. Second, I am pleased to say that we will keep Pastor Ryan Ritzmann for ministry at Christ Lutheran. And third, we have intentional plans of reaching out and retaining as many of the people possible who had attended Christ South.
I want to thank the many people who personally reached out to me with a text or email with words of encouragement, love, and support. I needed that. I felt that. As the one who first cast this vision, I am deeply saddened by how this ended. Thank you. But I am confident that God is not done with Christ Lutheran yet. We don’t call this a failure. New people came to faith and a daring new vision was cast to multiply the vitality of a larger church. While the timing of several things proved to be a struggle, we will continue to dream big and venture boldly on new ways to expand the Kingdom of God.