Monday, September 10, 2007

The Value of a Church Directory

Ever since we returned to Cameroon, I’ve been playing Santa Claus. Several of our partner churches in America sent gifts with us to their congregations, and I have started distributing them.

Yesterday, I visited Sion UMC in Obala, and presented three special gifts from St. Andrew UMC in Plano, Texas. First, they had sent an Emmitt Smith Cowboys’ jersey to the pastor. Lemec put it on and wore it proudly after it was given to him. He’d never heard of Emmit nor the Dallas Cowboys, but I simply explained to him that Emmitt was the American Eto’o (the Cameroonian soccer star)! Then he seemed proud to wear the shirt!

Second, the church received a video camera. It is St. Andrew’s hope that Pastor Lemec will use it to take footage of church services and activities, then send it back to America to share. As you can imagine, when the camera was presented, the church collectively oohed and aahed.

But the third gift was actually the most beloved – a church directory. St. Andrew publishes an elegant, full-color, hardcover version of its directory, full of pictures of all its members, staff and property.

After the service, I watched church members crowd around the book, which sat on the lectern. They flipped through the pages slowly, looking at every picture. One woman said, “Look at all the families!” Another man stopped and pointed every time he saw a person of color in the directory.

I have never seen a church directory better used and valued. I felt a true connection was taking place, a bond of love and unity. That’s what the church partnership is all about.