Yesterday I got some of the saddest news I’d received in my 9 years living in Palmyra. Citing “family reasons,” our school super-intendant resigned. He’ll stay on to the end of the year, and attempt to create a momentum which will carry the district forward, but I can’t deny the news was a blow. I also cannot fault him, as he has over an hour commute and has four small children who really need their dad. It’s still awful news. Mr. Lindenmuth has pushed the district ahead more in one year than the previous super-intendant did during his entire tenure – he believes that Palmyra school district can thrive, and I could see how grieved he was to leave before his work was accomplished.
My first reaction to the new was, “This ship is sinking, it’s doomed, we can’t stay here and drown.” School districts, after all, are a lot like churches – they need someone at the rudder to help get the ship going the right direction. We will soon be on our third super-intendant since my children entered the school (not counting interims). As with churches experience depression when they suffer quick pastor churn, the morale in the district feels low. The “concerned dad” in me felt that desire to bolt (it doesn’t help that my allergies are magnitudes worse here in South Jersey).
First reactions, in all but multiple choice tests, are quite often wrong.
So, instead, I’d like to offer an invitation to any spiritual entrepreneurs who might be reading this post. If you are looking for a town to start a business, settle down, or otherwise live for Christ in – come to Palmyra. If you are looking to form an intentional faith community – come to Palmyra. Come to Palmyra, or any of the slew of other towns caught between the echoes of the past and the precipice of the future. Come ready to learn the culture, love the people, and be a witness of hope. Come and worship, come and serve, come and be a good neighbor to someone who is in desperate need of one. There are brothers and sisters here who have much love to give and wisdom to teach, but they need the energy of people who come from outside their perspective.
These towns need your ideas, passion, love, and energy. There are storefronts waiting to be filled, ready for some energetic people to create a third space of hospitality. There are people who have no family, but could use neighbors. There are children who need to witness what it means to be both learned and wise. Come and be the new perspective people need to experience.
Come, and follow Jesus here with us – maybe we can see the Kingdom together.
For the folks living in Palmrya, and other towns striving to move forward – don’t give up. Find ways to re-energize people for serivce. Take some time to instill in people a healthy pride for their home town. Show people (especially, sadly, our rudderless youth) what it means to respect your neighbor, and the power of kindness belligerance. There is hope.