By Bill and Emily Jones, Ripple Church
The first time we attended Ripple Church in Allentown, PA was a Sunday in 2013. We arrived at 4:00 pm to find a bustling church scene. We walked past a group gathered for Church of the Sidewalk and went inside to the basement where we joined everyone for the Church at the Tables service, followed by announcements. Among those announcements were plans for the church’s upcoming move away from the current location (12th and Chew Street). I remember being surprised and a little sad; this lively, warm, and packed church would no longer be here. Luckily, it didn’t move far, just downtown into another church building (8th and Walnut Street). We joined the congregation and enjoyed a few more years there until circumstances forced Ripple to move to another location on Turner Street.
Have you ever experienced a church move? Searching for a new home, saying goodbye, moving, and rebuilding relationships and structures have been part of Ripple’s nomadic existence since its beginning. Thankfully we have had friends and supporters every time the congregation needed a new place to go, but it still didn’t make the moves easy. As a church with many walking members, each move, even if close by, can have a significant impact on who can attend regularly. We can remember many families and people from different eras at Ripple whom we miss and whose lives have touched many.
Today our church faces yet another crossroads, but this one is of a different kind. The owners of St. Stephens, our current building, are ready to sell and want us to buy the building. They believe in us, have supported us, and are asking us to take the next step. As a church of little financial means, it’s a daunting task even to consider. However, it’s an opportunity that excites us, and we’ve made it our goal to own our church building.
At a recent planning service, the pastors asked Ripple, “What excites you about having our own building? How will owning this building help Ripple Church?” Some answers included having more space for people, and having our own kitchen and bathrooms that we could share with others. Others were excited about the opportunity to be good neighbors, and to be right next door to the community garden and Franklin Park. Another subset of answers focused on limiting worries about the future and building a sense of permanence that resonates with many Ripple members whose experiences have been the opposite.
There are many reasons why we want to purchase our church building. Now, how is a church with little financial means going to do this? We’re going about this effort by asking big and appreciating small. We’re passing out folders to be filled with quarters and writing letters to partners and friends to help support us in our goal. So far, we have raised $68,000 of our $200,000 goal. We will continue working to reach our goal of having a permanent home until we get there. We’ll cheer every quarter and appreciate every bit of generosity we receive.
One final Ripple memory: In our stint as treasurers for Ripple, there were months when we feared ends would not meet, where even meeting the modest payroll for pastors was uncertain. But every month there was always enough. Through generosity and the abundance of God, there is always enough.