After Sunday: Believing in Place

Is “believing in place” like “running in place”, asked Adam Hall.  “You exert a lot of energy, but don’t go anywhere?”

Of the three phrases in our Mission Statement – “A Worshiping Community * Walking in the Way of Jesus * Believing in Place” – it’s that last one that is the least defined.  After the worship service, one parishioner wondered if “believing in place” is similar to the adage: “Bloom where you are planted.”  Adam provided a bit of history – the line is inspired by a recent focus in education – “Place-based education”.  The term was coined in the 1990’s by Laurie Lane-Zucker of The Orion Society and Dr. John Elder of Middlebury College.  Place-based education understands students’ local community as one of the primary resources for learning (Wikipedia).

Our ministry focus is the “Greater Burlington Area”.  The average age of Burlington’s population is 26.5 years old (“… and getting younger,” Adam informed us).  Regardless of what the nationalJanuary 20 - Burlington press might broadcast about Vermont – and Burlington – this being one of the most “unchurched”, “irreligious” places, Adam reminded us that wherever there are human beings, there are human spirits; and we all experience a “spiritual hunger”.

Though it was not planned this way, Jim Heininger, the chairman of our Church Council, also informed our congregation at this service that the council has heard the report of our Board of Trustees.  Preliminary assessments are in from the architectural firm of Guilot-Vivian-Viehmann.  With a cost estimate of $3 Million needed in repairs – about $1 Million of which is needed immediately – the council received the report and voted not only to accept it, but to begin the process that will lead to a Capital Campaign.  With the option of vacating the facility and property on the corner of South Winooski Avenue and Buell Street, our leadership believes we are called to stay in this place.  We believe in our calling, and our calling is to worship God, walk in the way of Jesus – and learn what it means to be a disciple right here … right where we are.

So … we embrace “Place-based Christianity”.  This is our city and our community.  We live here and have roots here.  We can grow spiritually here.  We can believe – and act on our beliefs – right here.

What do you think … can we do it?


Listen to Adam’s Sermon.

“Believing in Place” – a much bigger picture.


Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.