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Last month we hosted a series of community meetings to share updates from Iringa, review best practice[...]
At least once a week, I hear someone ask, “What exactly is the relationship between Christ the King and Cristo Rey?"
In a way, of course, the answer to each of these questions is “yes.” Christ the King Lutheran Church (Ctk) in New Brighton has long been a supporter of the Saint Paul Area Synod’s new starts, particularly ethnic-specific missions like Minnesota Faith Chinese, Good Samaritan Lutheran Church (Hmong ministry), and Pueblo de Fe. Providing resources above our regular mission support, showing up for their special events, and promoting the work of these congregations could be said to be part of CtK’s DNA.
And, yes, Cristo Rey is officially constituted as its own congregation, a “congregation under development” since 2014. The new terminology is “Synodically Authorized Worshiping Community” (SAWC), which is a helpful way to think about Cristo Rey. It is identified as a community on its own, not just some activities offered in Spanish from time to time by an otherwise English-speaking church. Being a SAWC has allowed Cristo Rey to tend more fully to its own development as a faith community, parallel to ongoing life of CtK.
But truth be told, Cristo Rey has always been part of Christ the King—and many of us think of it as being part of our immediate rather than extended family. Its leaders were part of CtK before Cristo Rey launched, and the children and youth participate extensively in CtK’s Children, Youth and Family ministries. Mission Developer Ana Becerra takes part in all of the CtK staff meetings, retreats, and workshops, as well as weekly worship planning. CtK’s Director of Worship leads worship music for Cristo Rey and CtK pastors preside regularly at communion. Several times a year, we offer share bilingual services.
Ana once described the relationship between the two communities using the image of people entering the same room through different doors. (It would date me to mention that this makes me think of the Beatles film, Help, so I won’t.) She was careful to say the same room, and not just the same building—“It’s not like we rent out your basement,” she said, a big smile across her face.
Increasingly, we’re imagining ourselves as two expressions of the same community rather than two distinct congregations. Christ the King’s council reserves a place—with voice and vote—for a representative of Cristo Rey. Anglo members of Christ the King are increasingly attending Cristo Rey Bible studies and worship services. Festival Sundays like Pentecost and All Saints, as well as significant faith steps like First Communion and Confirmation are increasingly planned together. And the shared meals have never been better!
The way Cristo Rey is taking root both alongside and within Christ the King is perhaps a new way of thinking about our synod’s mission starts. Are we partners, neighbors, or part of the same church? The answer, of course, is “yes.”
We are not there yet.We are on the way together.
About the Author - The Rev. Peter Hanson is the lead pastor at Christ the King Lutheran Church in New Brighton. The congregation is committed to walking with God and its local and global partners to make a difference. Cristo Rey worships in Spanish on the fourth Sunday of each month.