My brothers and sisters in Christ,
History will one day tell of the faithfulness with which you have been living. These six months have demanded much of us, of our trust in God, of our collective sense of community. We have been called to clear dependence on one another and reminded of God’s reassuring and constant presence in chaotic and uncertain times. I write to you this October in the year two thousand twenty reflecting not only on our journey since March 15, but on the journey of Second Presbyterian Church since the year eighteen thirty-eight. I write to you at this moment imagining Second Presbyterian Church 182 years from now…it will be the year two thousand two hundred and two. Where will this congregation be? Which convictions of faith will its members confess? How will this church serve Christ and the community beyond its doors?
In 1838, fifteen followers of Jesus Christ united to form Second Presbyterian Church. Henry Ward Beecher was called as your first pastor. The history that followed includes the establishment of new congregations, the founding of missions to serve those in need, the building of schools, even a campaign driven by this church to found the Indianapolis Public Library System. The transcendence of worship, the beauty and meaning of sacred music, the powerful proclamation of the gospel. Education, evangelism, and engagement. Public and civil service, Christian formation, care and hospitality, counseling. Made up of only fifteen members, Second Presbyterian Church set for sail on the seas of transformative love and courageous faith, anchored in the teachings of Jesus Christ and the promises of scripture. For 182 years, for the last six months, we have held firm to this clear call. We have grown in grace and persevered in hope. Second Church has a history of holding faith, together.
In our time, there is deep division in discourse and in deed. There are stormy seas. There is injustice and unrest. There is anger. Fear. And there is persistent uncertainty as we look to the future. Worry and wonder wait together for answers. As people of faith, we have known these times before. Our ancestors in faith wandered in the wilderness of danger and doubt and found the courage to trust God’s guiding hand. Generations of early Christians lived under threat of persecution and clung to the promise of Christ’s redeeming grace.
How do we stay on the course of bold and Christ-like love amidst such strife? How do we move forward as a welcoming community of faith where Jesus Christ transforms lives? A question that was asked of the disciples two millennia ago, one that calls us into the pages yet to be written of Second Presbyterian Church for the centuries to come. As it was then, the answer is found in claiming the core conviction at the center of our faith.
Unashamed and with conviction, we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord. We choose to be led by his saving love. We seek to embody his compassion and grace. When Christ calls to us, as he did to disciples long ago, we follow. We must not miss our summons to a future of new possibility.
We must not wait to begin, again.
I invite you into the stories of your history. I invite you to reflect on the faith you have held and lived with great courage since March 15. Read these pages and remember our mission: to be God’s sent people bearing a united message of Christ’s relentless love. And then ask yourself, when our history is read many generations from now, what will it say of Second Presbyterian Church in the year 2020 and beyond? In the city of Indianapolis, how will we serve and lead? As children of God, how will we love and nurture? With faith, hope, wisdom, and love charting our course, I believe with everything I have that we can begin, again.
With peace and grace,
Christopher A. Henry
Begin, Again Art: Ship Banner
Our sanctuary features eight beautiful fabric banners. The originals were handcrafted by Marian Beesley and her assistants, based on designs by Mary Newill. Both women were members of Second Church. Over time, the original banners faded. Volunteers created new ones using chemical dyes to ensure long life. These banners are a visible testament to how our life at Second evolves as we continue to renew our spaces and move forward in our spiritual journey together. The newly invigorated banners breathed fresh life into this sacred sanctuary, offering a flowing reminder of how we continue to begin, again.
In the fall of 2020, we look to the banner of the ship sailing on the water. The image of the ship symbolizes the church, especially its missionary work. At a time when so many of us may feel unmoored and adrift, we put our faith in the One who channels the winds and calms the seas. We settle into the boat, chart a course, set our sails, and begin, again.