Christ's Church, Better Together

Christ's Church, Better Together

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Called Forth To Serve

This week, we hear from Pastor Doug Hill, Abiding Hope Church in Littleton about why he serves with and supports Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains. 

In his final address to the disciples prior to his arrest and crucifixion, Jesus asserts, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40) This “last will and testament” of Jesus reveals his heart and calls us to be as passionate for “the least” as he is. Jesus understood that when we build relationships with and serve “the least”, not only are they blessed, but we also are blessed. Nothing fills us more than when we love and serve others. Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains takes Jesus’ words seriously as we seek to “walk with the vulnerable through services that heal, strengthen, and provide hope.” As members of the ELCA Rocky Mountain Synod, we are each called to participate in the important and necessary work of LFSRM. 

As a board member, I have had the privilege of participating personally in refugee resettlement, supporting foster families, walking alongside those going through the process of adoption, responding to people affected by disasters, and helping families to care for aging loved ones. Each time that my family and I have taken the time to get involved, we always say afterward, “We need to do more.” There’s something about serving and giving generously that transforms us for the better, that helps us to recognize that love, service and generosity is to be our way of life. 

I hope that you will take a look at the LFSRM website (lfsrm.org) and the many programs and services that are provided. Identify a program or service that aligns with your heart and passion, make a commitment to get connected, give generously of your time and resources, and experience firsthand what loving and serving “the least” will do in your life. When we come together in a spirit of love and generosity, countless lives are changed…including our own. The risen Jesus has entrusted the care of his brothers and sisters to us. Jesus is counting on us to respond to this call in a passionate and bold way so that we and all people may experience real life in Jesus’ name.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

HISTORIC AGREEMENT: TWO CHURCHES, ONE WORSHIP SPACE


Risen Lord Lutheran Church and St. Laurence Episcopal Church have come to an historic agreement to share the same worship facility at 26812 Barkley Road in Conifer, CO – a rural mountain bedroom community west of Denver.   Both congregations agreed that it made sense to combine physical resources; however, the two denominations are not merging as one religious entity.

When Intentional Interim Pastor Teri Hermsmeyer arrived at Risen Lord (congregation is 10 years old), the Council informed her of their financial condition that could see the church closing if they didn’t make changes soon.  One change was going from a full-time pastor (3/4 his last year) to half time.  Also, the rent in their storefront building was too much for this congregation of 32 average worship; so they held a brainstorming session with the congregation, on all the commercial sites the Council could look into for the next year.  Unfortunately, none of them were viable, and staying where they were (landlord agreed to a lower rent increase) could see them potentially closing in 3 years.  Pastor Teri gave Rev. Nancy at St. Laurence Episcopal Church a call about sharing space, and found they were very willing to look into this and make it work.



Once both congregations agreed this idea was worth pursuing, a Synergy Committee (self-titled) was formed with pastor/priest and president/senior warden and three members of both churches to explore the feasibility of sharing a worship space. Their first meeting established a “synergy prayer” they and their congregations would pray over the coming months:  Holy and gracious God, help us to be receptive to your Holy Spirit and listen to the divine in each other, giving us the hunger to find our way together for the sake of the Gospel. The committee met every Thursday for five months to identify needs, potential issues, re-arranging service times, logistics of space-sharing and other key details. 

The groups officially began sharing the St. Laurence facility the end of July 2017 with both congregations celebrating the accomplishment with a joint full communion* service (Lutheran music, Episcopal wording, shared paraments, banners and communion ware) officiated by Rocky Mountain Synod Lutheran Bishop James Gonia , with a BBQ potluck following, on the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, August 13, 2017.


Background

*Full Communion is when two denominations develop a relationship based on a common confessing of the Christian faith and mutual recognition of baptism and sharing the Lord’s Supper. This does not mean the two denominations merge; rather, in reaching agreements, denominations also respect differences. Each entity agrees that even with differences, there is nothing that is church-dividing.

An agreement between The Episcopal Church (ECUSA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), named Called to Common Mission, establishes full communion between them. It was ratified by the two churches in 1999. Under the agreement, they recognize the validity of each other’s baptisms and ordinations. These denominations worship together and may exchange clergy.