Sunday, July 27, 2003

Hebron Crossroads 8-03-03
By Jeff Gill

Hartford Fair time is coming around again, which means that summer is winding down. Of course, summer isn’t over, no matter what the temperature does or the first day of school starts on, until the Millersport Sweet Corn Festival winds up, so we’ve got some time.
Before I turn to the fair (or fairs), kindergarten prescreening is next week on Wednesday and Thursday at Hebron Elementary, where our Little Guy is starting this year. If your little one is starting kindergarten this year (and I hear some wonderful new kindergarten teachers have been hired for the building already to meet the all-day needs for Hebron and Buckeye Lake), make sure they get a time slot next week to get ready for this big new step in their life. Call 928-2661 for more info.
Supposedly, we have no “official county fair” in Licking County, but wherever our 4-H judging is shown off is official enough for me. Prime Producers 4-H is getting their rocket powered booth ready, with some help from Martha Neutron or someone like that, and I can’t wait to see it and the barrel racing and the hog barns up in Croton (Hartford P.O.), or is it Hartford (Croton P.O.)? Anyhow, sometime remind me to tell you about the story of the Halcyon Academy. . .
But this is the 145th Hartford Fair up in the northwest corner of Licking County, where since before the Civil War the lambs have been shown and the tomatoes compared. Quilts, cobblers, whittlin’, hobby projects, and all the stuff of which dreams are made of. . .or at least idle activities are made of can be found on display.
Way back when the first eastern settlers came to Licking County, the Beards and the Greens and the Bevers and the Cooperriders and the Staddens (to name just a few pioneer families) wondered how the next farm’s harvest came in, or how their calves looked compared to grandma’s whiskey rubdown treatment.
Even preceding the venerable Hartford Fair, Isaac and Ezra would lean over the fence rails and say, “Howzabout those turnips? You use livestock manure, or mix it with swamp mud?” Next thing you know, you’ve got a county fair . . . official or otherwise.
So this week, I hope to see you up there; the omnipresent Newspaper Network of Central Ohio probably has a booth there (insert editorial comment here, Amy!) and maybe we can move the Hebron Crossroads temporarily up there for a week.
They aren’t kidding when they call it “145 years of family traditions,” and their year-round web site, has a full schedule and other information on it (or call 893-4881, but they won’t answer too fast next week, and don’t ask to page someone). Along with the Ohio State Fair, which is also beginning about now, they are one of the real perks of living in Central Ohio, and you really should take advantage of them!

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church, and a pretty fair fairgoer; if you have tales of the midway or sad stories of elephant ears gone wrong, call 928-4066 or e-mail
Notes From My Knapsack -- August 2003 "The Church Window"

It was hard to miss, sitting on the platform during commencement June 8th at Lakewood High, hearing how often people referred to a "small" school like ours. . .especially the youth saying it.

Some of you have heard me say already that we need, at Hebron Christian Church, to get out of the mindset that we're "a small church." Of course, as with the seniors who made the same reference on their graduation day, "small" can be an acknowledgement of affection, a statement of a good quality we want to affirm: we're not "big," as in "nameless" or "anonymous" or "impersonal." And some of the comments about smallness are invocations against what we fear as the area develops and changes and, yes, grows.

But for our congregation and our schools and our area, it's important that we have an accurate and honest understanding of where we're at, and what our benchmarks and comparisons ought to be in measuring healthy growth and effective development.

The Yearbook of the Christian Church comes out in July, and once again we can see a number of interesting statistical facts about who and where we are. Out of about 200 churches in the Ohio region, our worship attendance average puts us around the 75th percentile. That means 25 percent are larger than us, and 75 percent are smaller.

Our budget (operating funds) is a bit behind that, closer to 70th percentile, and our outreach behind that, and our Disciple outreach is almost right on 50th percentile. That shows room for growth, but still isn't "small."

Some figures don't go in the yearbook, like our 12 youth to church camps this summer (plus supplying a director and a counselor to the camping program); others are harder to compare because most churches don't have clerks like Dave D., but our average age in worship is strikingly lower than the average for Protestant churches as a whole.

Add to that the fact that we have a fascinating new challenge that relatively few Disciples' churches in Ohio and around the US and Canada have -- our area is, in fact, growing! -- and you see a picture of a congregation that may not be World Harvest or Grace Brethren, but is an important part of the life of the Christian Church in Ohio, and beyond.

We don't need to brag, and we shouldn't be shy, either, about taking our light out from under the proverbial bushel and letting it shine. In fact, one of the clearest signs of the health and vitality of Hebron Christian Church is how often our fellowship is mentioned when there's community work to do. 9/11, wagon trains, help for a family after a fire, parking cars at National Trails: our name gets called, and our people repsond.

How we can continue to invite and include others into a fellowship with this kind of history and trajectory is what your elders will be studying and reflecting on during the five Sundays of August. Pray for us and be ready to hear what we come out with as we study "The Purpose Driven Church" and look honestly and accurately at where we are and where we're going as God's people in Hebron!

In Grace and Peace, Pastor Jeff

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Choir practice begins Thursday, Sept. 4, at 7:00 pm. Come and sing, all are welcome!