My 1968 Mustang California Special is now in the ugly stage. It’s in the body shop for a complete body rebuild. The interior is out, and they have started grinding off the paint. Bondo and paint applied from previous owners/shops is being removed, and we are looking for hidden problems. We are wondering if the top has been cut off in the past, and a replacement welded on? Why would they go to this trouble and put one on that has issues? The wrong adhesive was used on the windshield, and it broke while being removed. What else will we find? Every “new problem” adds to the build cost. How will this project turn out? What will be the final cost?

My Mustang is part of a storied history. In 1968 Ford made 317,404 Mustangs, and only 3,867 California Specials. California Specials weren’t made again until 2007. The 1968 California Special was based on “Little Red”, a Shelby experimental coupe (Shelby decided not to produce coupes). 200 California Specials were initially made, with 7 of them being revealed on February 15, 1968, at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. That night 1,000 California Specials were ordered. One week later the reveal party for northern California was held at San Francisco’s historic Fairmont Hotel in their Gold Room. Several hundred more orders were made that night. My Mustang was one of them.

From the factory, my Mustang had: lime gold paint; parchment knit front bench seat (not buckets); parchment vinyl roof; 289 V-8; air conditioning; automatic transmission; and wire wheel covers. Although it is the same car, in 2020 my California Special will look quite a bit different than it did 52 years ago. It has never been my goal to make my Mustang look exactly like it did as it rolled out of the San Jose factory on March 22, 1968. The colors on my Mustang were popular in 1968. Less so now. Other aspects, though, like the front bench seat, will be brought back to my car. What excites me with my California Special is it’s potential. It can be a cool muscle car that is rarely seen at most car shows.

Our South District United Methodist churches (not to mention all the churches in the Desert Southwest Conference) have a proud history. I love hearing about the original years of each of our churches. The majority of our churches were started a long time ago. Has ministry changed much over the years? How effective will our churches be if we try to exactly recreate the way ministry looked multiple decades ago?

As we dig into ministry with our churches, it’s easy to completely focus on uncovered problems. How many problems have been found in your church? In our denomination? Do these problems ever seem overwhelming? It’s critical to identify our issues. Without knowing our challenges, it’s difficult to discover solutions. Once we find solutions, we have to decide how much we are willing to invest in the needed “rebuild”. There is always a cost. Jesus is a witness to this.

I’m concerned our “problems” are blinding us from seeing the potential for Christian ministry in both our current, and future, locations. Jesus Christ is needed as much now as ever. Do we see this? What role will we play in responding to this potential?

Your brother on the journey, Mark

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