Beating the Bounds

By Pastor Raygan

Of the many ways I could jump into this work at Big Red, I want to start with relationships. All of the work of the church is grounded in relationships. In many English, Irish, and Scottish parishes, there is an annual tradition known as “Beating the Bounds,” though it has other names as well. In this centuries-old custom, on “Beating the Bounds” Sunday, the minister and congregation walk the boundaries of the Parish. Walking the boundaries helped them reinforce the boundaries of the parish, even if they had to walk through people’s yards and farms, and wade through rivers and other obstacles to do so. One church in Oxford still carries on this practice today, even though they have to go through restaurant kitchens, department store shoe displays, and several locked gates and people’s private property in order to do so. This odd practice helped the church pass down their knowledge and traditions to younger generations, and reminded them of the specific set of space that they were called to serve.

I am excited to finally be here at First Congregational, and to join you in the work of doing creative and transformative ministry in our community, but I’m also aware I’m starting 135 years into the Big Red Church’s story. So, I have a bit of getting up to speed to do; much like merging onto a freeway where traffic is already moving a bit above the speed limit.

Now, at Big Red, our boundaries aren’t so neatly defined, which has its benefits and complexities, but that doesn’t make the work of becoming acquainted with our community any less important. Rather than parish boundaries, we have people. So as I get started and get up to speed with you all, a better way of showing me the community we’ve all been called to serve will be actually meeting with as many of you as possible. I know I will gradually get to know many of you through the many ways you are involved at Big Red, but I’d also like the chance to get to know you at an individual or small group level, too. I want to meet with all of you; longtime members, new members, associate members, visitors, friends, and whatever other categories of involvement you may have with Big Red. I could not be more excited to be here because I see great potential and many exciting things in the Big Red Church, and I want the work we do to be grounded in our connections with each other.

To schedule these meetings and gatherings in a way that simplifies the logistics for me, I’ve set up this online schedule with the times I am making myself available over the next couple of months, and where you can sign up:

If none of the available or proposed times work for you, or you prefer not to use the computer or Internet, we can find something that will work if you call me at the church office.

I’m looking forward to meeting, working, and serving with you all.

Pastor Raygan

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