Today is the 125th anniversary of the formation of Church of the Improv. Church records indicate that 125 years ago, five men met and covenanted to form a Christian union church. There's no mention of any women, but I assume their wives made them do it – the first thing that was started was the Sunday school. On the early rolls, women were listed as "Mrs. John Alden"; these days married women speak for themselves and are as likely to be known as "Ms. Priscilla Mullins" as not. And these days all are welcome in the full life and leadership of the church.
A full year of anniversary events is planned; for this inaugural weekend, the guest speaker and preacher is Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, General Secretary of the World YWCA. This morning, she spoke about her international travels and the pervasiveness of fear; the global impact of HIV infection; the interconnectedness of poverty and wealth and how, curiously, only poverty receives study and theologizing; the need for environmental stewardship; and reasons – lots of reasons – for hope. Then we had an excellent church supper (which was punctuated by the observation that our waiter was wearing Davidoff Cool Water and smelled great).
The global perspective is a marvelous corrective to American parochialism and the tendency for media sensationalism. Now I have much fodder for thought, not least what a post-9/11 church looks like in a post-9/11 world. I never used to think much of the Christmas carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem," but the line, "The hopes and fears of all the years" is in my head tonight. James Forbes preached on the topic some years ago; I know I've got the sermon somewhere [sounds of rummaging].
As for knitting, I quietly knit away on DH's cable vest during the talk. Afterward, some of the men present (including some of the generation that supposedly doesn't notice anything) mentioned to me how much they appreciated handknit gifts they had received. Wow. It's all interconnected – little loops in a string make a sweater. A handknit gift today is a cherished memory decades later. A butterfly flaps its wings roundabout Exit 151 and a wind is felt in Nairobi and Geneva and Porto Alegre.
I'm really looking forward to the sermon tomorrow.