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A MESSAGE FROM OUR MODERATOR

Welcome to Compton Heights Christian Church! We describe ourselves as “people of different races, sexual orientations, abilities and dreams building a community of faith and justice.”

I write this greeting at a time of transition at our church. On August 29, our beloved minister and friend, the Rev. Dr. Jacquelyn Foster, retired from ministry. She and her husband, Dave Boger, served our faith community for an amazing 25 years with a deep sense of spirituality, theology, and purpose. Rev. Jacque nurtured everyone she encountered with such compassion, whether they were Disciples of Christ, from a different faith, or no faith at all. Dave – one of the kindest men you will ever meet – a former engineer with a meticulous mind, helped keep the building running by repairing and constructing projects too countless to name. They provided space for questions and for encouraging statements and opinions. And so, we all learned and grew together as Disciples, through wonderful joyous times, as well as through the difficult pains and losses we shared.

While glad they have reached this blessed milestone, I am still mourning the fact that I don’t see Rev. Jacque and Dave every Sunday. To quote a lyric from an old Lulu song I’ve always loved, “But how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume? It isn’t easy, but I’ll try.” (Sorry for that odd, cultural reference, but everything makes me think of a song!) I never had a female pastor before Jacque, so her ministry was empowering for me to witness. I also never had one minister for 25 years, so she was my pastor and friend for most of my adult life in St. Louis. I know that my spiritual life is more rooted and has the influence and maturity she brought to Compton Heights. When I said to her, “How are we going to do this without you?” She replied, “Compton was always a special place before I started here. That’s one reason I wanted to come!”

Rev. Jacque is correct – this congregation has always been filled with strong, faithful members who did wonderful things. In the 60s, we decided to stay in the city instead of moving to the county to avoid the changing demographics. In the 70s, we called our first female pastor, the late Rev. Arla J. Elston. Around the same time, Compton began a day care center and an emergency food outreach ministry to support neighborhood challenges. Cornerstone Center for Early Learning, now located on the corner of 39th and Thurman Streets, continues to grow, as does Isaiah 58 Ministries. Still operating in our lower level, Isaiah 58 is run by the Revs. Brenda Booth and Meredith Jackson – both Compton members.

To me, the most important step we made as a congregation was in 2000 when Rev. Jacque led us through discernment and studies to become the first O & A (Open & Affirming) Disciples of Christ congregation in St. Louis, fully welcoming all LGBTQ people to worship and join our church. It will always be one of my proudest reasons for being a Compton Heights member.

In 2005, we proudly began a simple, yet significant ministry named Happy Friday. Every Friday morning from 7-8:00 am, we greeted those traveling past our church to work and school and offered hot chocolate and coffee to anyone who stopped by. In November 2014, we opened our doors for 48-hours straight to be a safe sanctuary space after the officer who killed Michael Brown was not indicted, providing a place to pray, warm and eat during the protests. Most recently in 2020, we have partnered with St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church, St. Pius, St. Cronin’s, Celebration CC, Oak Hill Presbyterian, a few other churches, the Ethical Society, and neighborhood friends, for Black Lives Matter vigils in front of our church building. Social justice and equity ministries are integral parts of who we are.

Finally, during her last month as always, Rev. Jacque provided wonderful pastoral care to all of us, including to those who were ill and in hospice care. She baptized two of our youth who were born and raised in our church, and on one Sunday, four new people we met during the pandemic came forward to join the congregation! Another wonderful moment happened on a farewell Zoom call with Jacque and church members. A fifth person wanted to be a part of our faith community. Despite a recent move out of state, she joined our church that Thursday at the online meeting! It was a uniquely joyous moment those on the call will never forget.

With a retirement of such significance to the congregation, you may be asking, “Where is the church headed today?” After six months of work, the Search Committee and CHCC Board members have chosen to call The Rev. Steve Westbrook, to become our Interim Minister starting on November 1. We are excited to begin this new chapter and look forward to his guidance as we figure out the future needs and work of our congregation. As our Interim, Steve will help us transition from this period to one where we ultimately find a new, settled pastor the following year. Between now and November 1 when our new Interim Minister starts, we are blessed to have seven weeks of pulpit supply by members who are ministers in our congregation. We invite you to join us for our in-person worship at 11:00 am where we are following Covid safety measures of spaced seating, mask wearing, temperature checks at the front door and individualized communion servings. For those members not comfortable meeting in-person, we stream our Sunday worships on Facebook Live, or you can view the recorded service at your convenience. We are happy to be meeting face-to-face again, but equally excited about the new virtual relationships we have gained over the past 18 months.

As always, no matter who you are, Compton Heights welcomes you! If you attend, you probably will see some hiccups in the flow of our worship service as we navigate through these new times. Some things may seem new or different to your previous worship experiences. However, I promise you that if you listen and look closely, you may catch glimpses of the true Kin-dom of God. To quote our former Pastor Jacque as she ended most of her sermons, “Let it be so! Amen and Amen.”

Madeline Haraway,
CHCC Board Moderator