Newcomers often have special questions about a church. What follows is a compilation of discussions that newcomers (NC) have held recently with Rev. Wagner (RW). Learn more about Pilgrim in About Us.
NC: What is unique about Pilgrim?
RW: We are a caring church, a community church that doesn’t live unto itself, but lives unto our community; consequently we are also a place of hospitality. In all ways, we seek to encourage spiritual exploration and to honor the unique ways in which God speaks in individual lives
NC: What should people expect from Pilgrim?
RW: You can expect a fertile place for new ideas, secure in the knowledge that things can and do originate from within the congregation. The Bell Choir, folk choir, and so much more—these things did not originate with me. These are ideas that blossomed from within the congregation, often times from newcomers.
NC: What are your hopes for newcomers to Pilgrim?
RW: I believe you will find in Pilgrim a church that cares. We are an extended family really, a natural place where you can joyously serve. Here you can give of your own gifts and find true friendships. This is true for singles as well as families, but it’s important to note that children will also find new friends and connections through Pilgrim’s Christian education program. Beginning with the Children’s Story which is a part of every Sunday morning service, we are an especially comfortable place for children.
NC: What is a brief description of the UCC and/or Pilgrim that would help a newcomer to know you better?
RW: Pilgrim is a place that seeks to relate the Biblical story to your everyday life. This is where the breakthrough comes when we encourage people to explore how their own experience might be an occasion for healing and growth. Peoples’ own experiences are sacred and are very much the plan of God. We try to ask and learn to answer the question: Is God present here and how can I know that?
NC: In your time at Pilgrim, how have you seen it change?
RW: The facilities have changed surely, but that original spirit of courage and vitality that led our founders to charter this church in 1961 is still present. For example our founders wanted Pilgrim to be a real center for the community. Today we are very much a place where people can come and find a space to let their light shine and express their own gifts. That is true for the Bozeman community at large as well as for the university. In fact our building and its wide and intensive use by others is a critical part of accomplishing our mission. As a church we have evolved and grown to encompass more people with a broader mission, but at our core we are still the same church.
NC: Why is membership an important step?
RW: For a person to declare outwardly what they feel inwardly before God and the congregation is a wonderful thing. It’s also a true inspiration for others to redirect their own membership to the church and its work. Your decision to become a member is a gift to yourself, but it is also a gift to the congregation.