“There’s going to be a fire in church on Sabbath and am not going to miss that,” said one young member. The snowfall on Friday, January 25, caused a few to ask whether the much trailed Mortgage Burning Ceremony planned for January 26 at Sligo Church would have to be postponed. Postponement was far from the minds of the church leaders and their faith was rewarded when approximately 1,200 souls braved the cold and the snow to participate in the ceremony. In both the 8:45 and 11:15 services mortgage papers were set alight and burnt to cinders, signifying the retirement of a loan of $2,295,958 that was borrowed from the Columbia Union Revolving Fund (CURF) to upgrade the sanctuary and the organ. “Now Thank We All Our God” was sung with added meaning as worshippers expressed their gratitude for God’s leading in the life of the church and for moving hearts to give generously to the Mortgage Fund.
Potomac Conference treasurer, Steve Wilson, commended the Church for the mammoth achievement of paying off the loan 12 years early. By so doing the Church has saved itself approximately one million dollars in interest. Those members who gave regularly to the Mortgage Fund were encouraged to direct their gifts in future to capital development projects.
The work of Charlotte Conway, church treasurer, Robert Visser, former chair of the Finance Committee and Dr James Gulley, chair of the Stewardship Committee, was said to be pivotal in paying off the loan early. Each of these three members received a token of thanks and appreciation from the Church for their committed service and strong leadership.
Senior Pastor, Charles Tapp, who incidentally celebrated his birthday on January 26, said that having cleared the loan the church was now in a position to concentrate more fully on ministry and on endeavors that bring people to Christ. In his sermon, “Walking on Water” Pastor Tapp reminded the church that what seems impossible with men is possible with God and that God can empower feeble human beings to accomplish that which is beyond their human limitations. He also emphasized the fact that though human instrumentalities were used to pay off the mortgage, God was the one to whom praise was due. Sligo’s Sanctuary Choir, a brass quartet, The Columbia Collegiate Chorale, the New England Youth Ensemble, organist, Patrick Alston and vocalists Denise Barclay and Raissa Labrador, led the Church in a crescendo of praise to God, who rewards His faithful children with glimpses of His power.
To mark the occasion the Church rolled out a new look bulletin, which members received warmly and which points the way forward for greater focus on mission. “Now that we have raised the money, we must now ‘raise the roof’ and bring people to Christ by any means necessary,” was the pervading response of God’s grateful children as Pastor Tapp invited congregants to rededicate themselves to the core mission of the church.
By: Don W McFarlane
Photos by: Michael McKennis (www.eyesoulphotographyllc.com)
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