Another Version of an HMC Bond Fire

On July 27, the Hallberg’s generously hosted our fifth Bond Fire of the season and people began trickling in just as the rain started.  
Some time was spent with the horses but as more people arrived the rains began to fall heavier. 
Refuge was found in Tor’s shop but when God’s light show got underway 31 people headed into the house and cozied up around the fireplace, visiting and making s’mores.
It was not quite the bonfire people may have envisioned on their way there but it was a great time with old and new friends.  Just another version of an HMC Bond Fire!

Come Sit By The Bond Fire

The first Bond Fire of the season came on the heels of a torrential downpour. Between vicious cracks of thunder the Rusnak’s regrettably posted a cancellation notice only to glance out the window ten minutes later to see the sun peaking through. Everything was soaked but one look at the daughter who’d spent her afternoon   labouring over a sign and the cancellation was rescinded with a ‘you might get wet but I dare you to come!’ announcement post.
Dry wood was pulled from the bottom of the pile behind the barn and a fire was going when the first guests arrived.  People slowly trickled in and in the end there was a grand total of 21 in attendance (with enough snacks for 50!) but the smaller group offered a great opportunity to meet some people newly connected to the congregation and though everyone got wet feet, hearts were light and the company was great!
The evening ended with an impromptu fireworks show and sparklers for the children.

Some brave kids jumped in the river at tonight’s BondFire @ The LaPrise’s
— Hanover Missionary (@hmcnews) July 7, 2014

Our second week was met with sunshine and many more people ventured out to enjoy the night together in the LaPrise’s backyard.  There was swimming in the river, a fascinating minnow-catching demonstration, and more food than the picnic table could contain.
We are looking forward to many more evenings together this summer. People have willingly opened their yards and homes and we are excited about the sense of community this recurring event is building. 
Will you join us this Sunday night? We’d love to see you there!

Welcome Back Sunday BondFire

We had grown comfortable with our annual Welcome Back; with it’s after-church gathering on the front steps, it’s fry truck, it’s tradition… But this is a season of change.  This is a season of seizing the moment, of looking each other in the eye, of connecting on a level far exceeding the Sunday morning ‘turn and greet one another.’ 

Our summer BondFires brought us into the fall with a growing feeling of new connection and community and we were loathe to see that ended; and so, we ‘Welcomed Back’ in good old country-charm fashion with a BondFire finale at the DeVisser Farm.

Fresh air lingering with the scent of a just-ended summer welcomed us warmly as we shared a simple meal.  Laughter drifted as children ran and tumbled across the lawn and the tractor rumbled along, giving hayrides through fields awash in sunshine, culminating in a charming song-a-long around the little fire pit while s’mores were roasted and jackets zipped against the evening chill.

This is community.  This is family.  This is the church.

The BondFire Initiative

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!