The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
When Bishop Lull hosted the invitational dinner portion of our synodical mission support program, which we call "3x3", she discussed the creation of an atlas of partnerships. This atlas illustrates and pinpoints the partnerships that our congregations are currently engaged with. The overall effect of looking at this atlas is to see what a wonderful web of connectivity that exists both within our synod and with numerous partners outside of the synod. It is very clear that we value working with others as a faithful expression of our faith in Christ. I am struck by the richness and variety of the partnerships that we have. We work with our companions in Guatemala and Tanzania, we work with countless food shelves, and we partner with large numbers of other congregations – just to name a bit of this richness and diversity. It confirms just how important our mutual work is to each of our congregations.
While the synod office has a responsibility in encouraging partnerships and helping us all tell our stories, it remains a congregation's responsibility to foster partnerships. Ultimately, creating and maintaining partnerships in ministry is an issue of stewardship. Every congregation in our synod needs partners in order to do faithful ministry. Sometimes, the most enriching partnerships spring seemingly from out of nowhere.
This has certainly been the case in Mount Calvary Lutheran’s newly forming relationship with St. Mark Lutheran in Saint Paul. Pastor Walt and St. Mark were looking for a qualified interim for faith formation and Mount Calvary had a former council member looking for new ways to plug into the life of the church. Now, Pastor Walt and St. Mark have received Amy as a missionary to help them lead their Sunday morning faith formation. Amy and Mount Calvary have received the gift of seeing ministry with new eyes in a context that is quite different than our own.
There are over 100 congregations in the Saint Paul Area Synod who are working faithfully to follow Christ and to do Christ’s work. St. Mark was a congregation that Mount Calvary knew little about – though they are only separated by 11 miles. Now, they are beginning to see the new ways in which we can partner and share resources. Stewarding our resources together will enrich both congregations in ways that we cannot yet imagine.
As you think about your fall stewardship work, I pray that you continue to be open to the ongoing and newly forming partnerships that are in your own contexts. Stewardship is certainly about much more than crafting a budget and finding the necessary financial resources to meet said budget. Being faithful stewards also means receiving the gifts of others as you share your own. There is great abundance in our congregations – in imagination, in creativity, and in giftedness. Please share your stories with one another and with the synod office. It is life-giving to hear what we are all up to together.
Partnering in the Gospel with You,
The Rev. Tom Jenkins