The disappearing mountain

The disappearing mountain

One of my favorite Chapel Hill memories is of joining the high school kids, year after year, on their home-building mission trips to Tijuana, Mexico. As we approached our campsite each year, we passed a mountain that had been turned into a gravel mine. Heavy equipment on top of the mountain illuminated by spotlights scraped away around the clock. And every year we arrived, that mountain grew…shorter! It seemed improbable that an entire mountain might disappear before our very eyes, but that is exactly what happened. Year by year. Foot by foot. Until suddenly—the mountain was no more. Gone. Pfft!

This weekend, we are going to celebrate a disappearing mountain. A mountain of debt.

Thirty years ago, we took out a mortgage—$1.2 million—in order to build our new gymnasium. Two more building projects followed, all of which jumped our debt load until, at the high point in 2007, we owed $9 million to the bank! That is a HUGE mountain of debt.

We always managed that debt carefully. We never missed a payment. We wisely re-financed and made extra payments and did all the things you would expect of good stewards. But…it was still a mountain of debt. MILLIONS of dollars. (Cue Dr. Evil here.)

But four years ago, we decided to get crazy. Against “conventional wisdom,” we ran a debt-retirement campaign called “Beyond These Walls.” We dreamed together of what it would look like to eliminate the remaining $5.5 million of debt…and redirect the money we were paying to the bank (about half a million dollars every year at the high point) to investments beyond our walls that would “Make disciples, send leaders and love our neighbors.” We put that vision in front of you…and held our breath.

And WOW, did you respond. You LOVED the idea of moving beyond these walls. You loved the idea of investing in our community and region. You LOVED the idea of being ridiculously generous, year after year after year. And so… you gave. Big gifts and small. Veteran members and newcomers. Old and young alike, you gave. You kept giving and we kept chipping away at that mountain. Until—finally—

Well, the punchline comes this Sunday. There are a few special moments in the life of our church that are “can’t miss.” This Sunday will be one of them. You will discover what has happened to that mountain—and you will enjoy a worship service like none you have ever seen. In fact, I can GUARANTEE that one moment will be like nothing you’ve ever seen in ANY church!

Join us. In-person if you can. Online if you cannot, but in real time. Because you will not want to miss…the mountain that disappeared.

Pastor Mark