Exploring the Intersections of Faith and Life

Transformational Stories

from July 23, 2007
Transformational Stories from Home: Kicking and Screaming into Celebration

In the summer of 1994, the Session of the First Presbyterian Church in St. James, MN commissioned a committee of eight members to plan the 125th Anniversary of the church. As I attended those first meetings, I was committed to keeping the celebration short and simple. A special worship service followed by a simple picnic in the church court yard seemed more than adequate to celebrate this congregation’s 125 years in St James. A church history I knew very little about, but with what little I knew, found not very impressing.

However, the Holy Spirit had a different agenda. As the committee members met in the months leading up to the 125th Anniversary, the more energized they became, thinking further and further outside the box. Before I knew it, I had lost complete control as a short worship service and a simple picnic grew into a year long celebration that began on the first Sunday of 1995, reached its peak in July at the 125th Anniversary Celebration Worship Service and ended with the Christmas Program at the end of the year. Quite unexpectedly, I found myself being dragged kicking and screaming into a celebration I did not want, but will never forget, because we were all transformed by it all.

When all was said an done, A History and A Storybook of the church was published, celebrating First Presbyterians’ deep spiritual roots, beginning with it’s founder, J.R. McLean, who was neither a minister or a missionary, but a 23 year old Scot and Presbyterian elder from Nova Scotia who came to St. James when it was just a dot on a map created by the Sioux City Railroad Company. Like a mustard seed, that one small revelation grew into a celebration of what ordinary men, women, and children can do united in the strong name of Jesus Christ. Six years later, knowing who we were, where we had come from, and what we were called to do, ordinary men, women, and children doubled the size of the their church with the hope of continuing to serve Christ through serving the community.

It was a transforming experience. One I will never forget, especially as I went kicking and screaming into joyous celebration.

Thanks to Rev. Don Crissinger-Clark, for sharing his story!

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