In this sermon, Greg reviews some of the primary ways that God has worked in our church over the last three decades. This retrospective invites us into thanksgiving, celebration, and wonder at God’s faithfulness.
The journey of Woodland Hills Church is atypical, when compared to most churches. When it was launched 30 years ago, the goal was to start a standard suburban church in Woodbury, but Greg sensed a call from God to “turn toward the city.” During that first Christmas, the goal was to preach sermons that helped people feel the peace of the Christmas season, but Greg preached about the peace of Christmas that leads to racial reconciliation. This was only the first of many controversies! In the early days, the church was characterized by lots of excitement, vigor and some degree of chaos.
Since those days, Greg shares how the church has established the necessary organization that is required to remain effective over three decades. This is in large part due to the gifts of our executive pastor, Janice Rohling. She began working with Greg and others as a team of leaders to follow the Spirit’s leading down an unpredictable path. This path included the move into our current building. After meeting in multiple schools, it appeared that God was leading the church to purchase a vacant Shoppers City building off White Bear Avenue. Many obstacles had to be overcome, including the exorbitant cost and the resistance of the city council. However, what seemed impossible became a reality.
The way that this building has been used to face the city is a remarkable testimony to God’s faithfulness. The shared space with other ministries, the simplicity of the offices where staff do not have elaborate work spaces, and the creative use of space for things like building tiny homes and the food shelf are ongoing points of celebration.
Another point of celebration is the shift of resourcing people through online engagement. A few years before COVID, leaders felt led to shift the ministry online as much as possible. This prepared us to not only view sermons during the pandemic, but also to help people get connected in unique ways. It has also empowered Woodland to share the emphasis of racial reconciliation, the focus on love over judgment and the promotion of God’s peace over violence to people around the world.
We are grateful for what God has done and look forward to what God will be doing through us as we continue on this journey with Jesus, growing in love together.
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