We were sensing a hunger among the people of HMC to return to a real place of personal connection. We believe that relationship is essential to building a strong and caring community. There is much to be said for intensive theological study or radical prayer meetings but without relationship it can all fall a little flat. Ministry can and will thrive when our relationships are vibrant and strong.
We wanted to provide an opportunity to casually gather beyond the walls of our church building, a chance to get to know one another better, an occasion to laugh and play together, and a safe environment to invite others into participation with the HMC family.
Thus was born The BondFire Initiative.
If you could spend a little time listening in on the brainstorming that goes around our staff table you would quickly learn that naming something – whether it be an event, a series or a sermon – is a massive undertaking of navigating a circle of seemingly incompatible creative leanings while balancing various levels of ‘cheese-factor-appreciation.’ It is a fun and frustrating ordeal that (more often than not) yields great bounty; and, once something is named, excitement seems to overflow around it and we suddenly become a hive of activity working towards making that event happen.
BondFire happened to be one of the easier decisions (much to the gleeful delight of Pastor Lynday, who is such a fan of James Bond films that she came bubbling into the office on one of her days off just to share that she had timed things perfectly in lining up for Mescha’s new dog tag: #007!). Of course, we had been leaning towards the verb – to be bonded – to be bound together – but Mr. Bond was a happy accident. And what better way to ‘BOND’ than around a fire stoked by good conversations and delicious shared goodies?
We scheduled weekly campfires every Sunday night throughout the summer as a low key venue for community. Congregants offered their properties and fire pits. They made homemade signs and made space for a port-a-potty
With everything in place, all that remained was to see if people would invest in such a vision.
And they did! People came! Some weeks saw large numbers, others were a smaller group, but they came! They brought their lawn chairs and their blankets and more than enough snacks and stories
to share around and everyone just enjoyed the warm, low-pressure company of one another – out beneath the gorgeous summer skies. We bonded. And we are stronger for it.
Long ago, we used to sing this old Gaither chorus and though it’s no longer part of our musical repitoire I think it really is part of the heartbeat of what HMC wants to be:
I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
for I’m part of the family, the family of God.
If The BondFire Initiative accomplished anything, I’d say it is just this: we are a family. And as the song goes on to say, “When one has a heartache we all share the tears, we rejoice in each victory in this family so dear.”
Welcome home, weary wanderer, welcome home!