Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Summer of Partners and New Activities…

I’ve had an alright summer thus far. One or two big things happened. Last week, I met the head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). I traveled to Idaho for the first time to perform the wedding of a college friend. I just learned that a different close friend will soon move to MN to pastor a UCC church in Moorehead. Oh, and I got married. But I haven’t yet spent any time at a lake. So I’m taking the good with the bad, you know?

At the church, we had fun things happen too. We welcomed five different preachers to bring us messages while I was off traveling. Thank you, again, for your support this summer. Our joint picnic with Thy Word for Music in Plymouth was a resounding success from all reports. And I was blown away with the thoughtful execution of this summer’s VBS. We may not have the numbers other churches have, but when it comes to good hospitality to youth and children, numbers matter far less than open hearts and courageous adults willing to enter into meaningful relationships. So thanks to those who helped with that work. And let me encourage you all to continue building meaningful inter-generational relationships with each other. Very few places in American society provide space for such important relationships to occur. Church can, and should, do it well.

Which brings me to something else that happened this summer that I personally find very encouraging. We’ve done some new and cool stuff with St. Edward’s the Confessor Episcopal Church and Plymouth Presbyterian. For those who weren’t aware, you should know that our churches have gotten together this summer on a few occasions. It all began with a conversation I had with their pastors/priest last Spring. We each recognized that none of our churches had the size or budget to offer the kind of programming we’d like. But rather than do nothing, we decided to risk a partnership.

It’s been great. Twice a month, during June, July and August, we’ve held Wednesday night Adult Ed “Summer School” sessions. Give Laurie Leonhart a gold star for perfect attendance. Each time, we watched a twenty-minute video, from a series called NOOMA, followed by a short discussion. These DVDs have made huge waves around American churches for the past few years, especially amongst Young Adults. But we learned that age didn’t matter; their superior production quality and meaningful messages sparked wonderful conversations. Also, twice this summer we tried to get our churches’ youth together for some fun and relationship building. The first event was a Frisbee Golf outing, but no one from our partner churches were able to show up. So PCCC cooked some dawgs and tossed the ‘bee, and otherwise had a good time. Just a few days ago, we got together again at Plymouth Presbyterian for a Youth Service Project, and it was awesome. About 15 folk showed up for about two hours of painting logos on reusable bags for the city of Plymouth, who will hand them out with information about the city’s environmental programs and activities. So we were good Christians, citizens, partners and stewards of God’s Earth- at the same time!

All of this exemplifies one of our key missions at Plymouth Creek- Partnership. And we do this very well, from our established partnerships with Yellow Brick Road and Thy Word, to our emerging partnerships with Plymouth Pres and St. Ed’s, to our occasional partnering with Plymouth Creek Elementary. This church understands the value of working together, which I believe derives from our coming together every week at the Lord’s Table. We constantly remind ourselves that hospitality is something that, first and foremost, we receive from God. Thus, it’s only natural we share it with and receive it from others too. Thanks for your ongoing commitment to the many partnerships we’re forging. And please, keep looking for other partnerships we could begin, and let me know. I’d be glad to help you help our church enter into deeper, more life-giving partnerships with our neighbors. I seem to remember Jesus saying something positive once about something like that…

Grace and Peace,