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[...]
In the beginning of 2017, the Saint Paul Area Synod distributed 11 micro-grants to congregations wishing to pursue a renewal opportunity. Congregations dreamed up ways to renew themselves that included community outreach, worship renewal, and engaging congregants in challenging conversations. Stories of Renewal is a blog series about what these 11 congregations have been doing with their micro-grants.
This past year, five Lutheran congregations – Christ the King, House of Prayer, Lakeview, Redeemer and Our Redeemer – came together to plan summer worship on the Bruentrup Heritage Farm in Maplewood. Centering around the theme of "Playful Faith – Faithful Play", these services would be a weekly opportunity to come to the farm to play, picnic, and worship.
This theme grew out of a group reading of Michael Yaconelli’s book, Dangerous Wonder. Excitement was sparked! A team developed plans for the summer through a series of meetings where ideas sailed like kites and energy zoomed like wind-up toys. The end result of months of planning was a wide-open invitation for people to enter an adventure of becoming more childlike in their faith.
A mission renewal micro-grant from the Saint Paul Area Synod enabled the planning team to develop a promotional campaign. The campaign asked participating congregational members to invite 10 friends, family members, or neighbors to join them for worship on the farm – with the help of a buy-one-get-one-free meal offer. To begin this invitational campaign, carabiners with 10 coupon cards were distributed to all regular worshipers at the participating congregations. The campaign was wildly successful.
Each week, new visitors were present for the picnic supper, games, and worship. Superhero costume dress-up, water balloon fights, hay rides, and other activities helped everyone get into a spirit of play. Suppers were provided by the Maplewood Historical Society which manages the farm. Three weeks during the summer, Shobi’s Table provided supper, introducing diners to one of St. Paul’s outreach missions – and helping to raise funds to support it.
Worship on the Farm encouraged support of local missions by sharing weekly offerings with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS-MN) and the Saint Paul Area Synod for mission development. One week the evening was devoted to service projects in support of LSS Refugee Resettlement program, the White Bear Area Food Shelf, the City of Maplewood, Cards for Hospitalized Kids, and Camp Noah. Volunteers from the partnering congregations organized the projects and provided weekly support for farm worship. Greeters, ushers, play coordinators and musicians came together each week to provide hospitality for farm guests – and, in the process, new friendships were formed as people from different congregations had an opportunity to work together.
The Rev. Pam Stofferahn
Redeemer Lutheran Church, White Bear Lake