Summary: This sermon cast a vision for building a New Life Center for the future.
Do It Now
Today is the beginning of a new day in the life of our church. We are celebrating Kickoff Sunday in one of the greatest moves of faith we have taken to date. In a football game, the opening kickoff goes a long way in determining who gets the momentum for the start of the game. When you’re the team kicking the ball, you’re usually all in one line. The kicker starts running toward the ball. You start your run as he passes you. The main thought on your mind is, I’m going to hit whoever gets that ball so hard, he’s going to be scared the rest of the game.
When you’re the team receiving the ball, you’re more scattered over the filed in usually about three rows. The front row is thinking, the first guy that comes to me is going to see stars when I knock him down. The next two rows are thinking, when I get the ball, I’m heading straight for the goal line. I’m going to score before they knew what hit them.. Both teams are ready to go at it.
The whistle blows, and the kicker heads toward the ball. My friend whatever you plan to do, you better do it now, if you’re going to make a difference in the kickoff.. Every now and then whether or not 6 points gets on the board boils down to just two guys on the field. Will the last guy on defense stop the guy carrying the ball. The whole stadium is usually up cheering. Whatever move the guy running the ball is going to take to break the angle, has to be done now. The guy trying to stop him, has to stay under control now, or he may over commit himself and let the other guy score.
Today, this is a big game for us, but no team you see lined up for the kickoff, is together for the first time. Today’s game has its roots in a vision that was placed in the heart of a people one hundred and ten years ago around 1890, when a group of people down at Old Stone Church located on public square today, had a vision to build a church in the outlying area of the city of Cleveland known as Glenville. That group of saints, had a vision as well.
Their kickoff led to the building of this sanctuary. We sit in the pews for which they made sacrifices. We sing God’s praises in a beautiful sanctuary because they were willing to serve the Lord with a whole heart. That congregation at one time was one of the greatest givers to world missions in the entire denomination. Their kickoff was successful in changing lives for Jesus Christ.
Our next big game was the vision to expand this place for ministry. Around 1910, the saints here had a vision to add the fellowship hall area, the classroom and the bathrooms. Thanks to their commitment in 1912, we were able to have space for one of the first Headstart sites in the 1960’s. We had a place for the first freedom schools here in the city when the schools were closed because of segregation. We have had a place for Vacation Bible School, For Life-Sharing Classes, For dinners and other things. God was using the congregation of 1912 to enable us to do ministry in the year 2000. Though they have gone on to be with the Lord, their sacrifices made then continues to reap a spiritual reward for them now. Their kickoff was successful for the cause of Christ.
When our neighborhood changed, the original Glenville Presbyterian Church came to an end and closed. But that was not the end. God had a few more games He wanted us to play. He placed it in the heart of our founding members to line up at the kickoff line once again. Not many people thought a white pastor could start a predominantly black church in a changing neigborhood. As a matter of fact, the founding pastor David Zuverink told me, that the denominational officers told him he was crazy and wasting his time. I’m glad that people don’t mind being called crazy for Jesus. They were just willing to line up at the kickoff.
Unbeknown to the critics and the nay sayers, on that opening kickoff were players on the field with names such as Fendley, Hall, Jackson, McHam, Moore, Moffett, Pollard, Stewart, Sullivan and Williams. Players that were not only on the opening kickoff, but those who would still be on the field playing almost 4 decades later. How many of the world’s athletes can boast the same kind of endurance.
Because of that kickoff game, this church started again in this neighborhood. Education was one it’s hallmarks with the Learning Program at the church. When other churches didn’t want Dr. Martin Luther King coming to Cleveland because in the early days he was seen as a troublemaker, this church had him come and speak at this pulpit. It was this congregation that produced the After School Supper Program which has been feeding children in this community full meals for two decades. Their kickoff was successful for the cause of Christ.