“Go Back and Get It”
In the Twi language of Ghana there is a word – Sankofa – that translates to “Go back and get it” and refers to an iconic bird symbol called the Bono Adinkra. The bird is shown with its feet facing forward, but its head turned backwards, and usually holding a precious egg in its mouth. The metaphorical symbol expresses the importance of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress. It was my delight to be able to learn of this from Rev. Traci Blackmon recently on a webinar, aptly called Sankofa. (Rev. Blackmon is the Executive Minister of Justice & Witness Ministries of The United Church of Christ.)
“Go back and get it” is the thread of this article, the story of the people of Vista Grande UCC.*
Recently I took a look back by reading the church history of congregants who have served in the past on committees, or Task Forces, or Team Ministries (as things change names over the years.) I started with Christmas Eve, 1976. This was the day on which a Covenant was entered into by a group of people, a minster, and their God. On that day, Vista Grande Community Church, United Church of Christ was born. Judy Gibson and Jan Morgan are two founding members of the original 60 who took the faithful step, and are with us today. I wondered what kind of a day it was; was it a bright winter’s day, or snowy? And what compelled this gathering of individuals to take that faithful and courageous step to become a church? In this installment of “Go back and get it” I will highlight three persons of faith and courage: Future installments will lift up the names of others found in the history of Vista Grande UCC.
Jan Morgan who became a charter member in 1976, took on Christian Education in 1985 – 1987; became Assistant Moderator in 1989; Moderator in 1990 and again 2009-2010; Finance Committee Chair 1999 – 2003; Financial Secretary in 1993 and 2004 – 2007; served on the Renewal and Move Forward Task Force starting in 2004; Secretary of the Council in 2015. Jan became the official Church Agent in 2007, so it is clear that she knows the ropes… and where they are stored, the last time they were used, and probably what the church paid for them! Jan currently serves not only as Church Agent, but Chair of the Facilities Ministry Team.
Lyn Gunning began to show up in the lay leadership historical record in 1980 as Moderator, as well as in 1991, 2001, 2007-2008; Member at Large in 1995 – 1996 and 2005; Assistant Moderator in 1990, 2000 and 2006. Lyn continues to serve as a greeter, usher, and provides violin music during worship to this day.
Carolyn Gunning took on Assistant Moderator in 1982. She served as Program Chair in 2003; Financial Secretary in 2008 – 2009; Member-at-Large 2010 – 2011 and again 2013 – 2014; and of course has taken on many other roles in the church, especially making sure we have ushers, greeters, worship leaders, and communion set up, to this day.
In 1986, Nancy Morlock-Hollins became Assistant Moderator in 1986; Moderator in 1987; Member at Large in 2003, 2005, 2008 – 2009; served on Renewal and Move Forward Task Force in 2004; Treasurer 2013 – 2016. Nancy serves as chair of Adult Faith Formation aka Percolate, co-chair on Mission Ministry Team, as worship leader, usher, greeter and elsewhere in and around the church.
These are only four of the many who have given of themselves, and this recollection is only of one way they have served. This doesn’t lift up their ongoing commitment in time, talent and treasure that Vista Grande might prosper and continue to be a welcoming place to explore one’s faith journey as well as being able to serve the greater community of Colorado Springs.
In the spirit of Sankofa, we look back and we “get it”; we bring to mind these three, what they have given, and we honor them in the recalling. Our bird looks back, but steps ever forward. Each of us decides what it is from the past that is of value, and we move into an always uncertain future carrying those values with us.
In spite of believing that the past was more certain, more stable, we realize it seems so only in hindsight. Since 1976 we have experienced armed conflicts, religious and political upheaval, SARS, Swine Flu, and Ebola to name only a few of the epidemics that have touched our shores. Through all of this and so much more Vista Grande UCC has held its values of welcoming everyone on life’s journey, serving the community, supporting each other through sorrow, celebrating each other’s joy, and gathering weekly to hold faithful the spirit of Jesus in our midst. This hasn’t changed. Maybe the manner in which we gather has changed (Zoom church on Sundays), and maybe ‘distaining hugs’ have replaced actual hugs, but the care, comfort, challenge and covenant have not changed.
In hope, in faith, and in love Vista Grande remains in the people who are the church.
For Vision Ministry Team