Recently a member of St. John’s attended a webinar called: “Churches that make a difference: Seven Creative Models for Community Ministry”

Here are some of my thoughts on what she outlined as the Seven Models:

Retool Existing Ministries: I have asked Admin and Council to seriously consider reorganizing our committee structure to become much more nimble in this liminal age AND so that our Young Adults will not feel so much they need to conform to a foreign system of doing things.

Partner with groups serving vulnerable populations: We are actively working with Holy Trinity Lutheran and the schools, and recently I connected with a leader of Tangletown Neighborhood Association to seek out ways of connecting, e.g. book study on Systemic Racism.

Equip church members to connect with their neighbors safely:

a. I am currently hosting sessions of Holy Conversations as a book study on “Dear Church- A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US” in order to open our congregation on the topic of existing systemic/institutional racism within the church. I am thrilled at the depth of conversation, but remain hopeful that more members would carve out the me to participate in this vital topic of conversation.

b. CAN Committee will be doing a fundraiser to assist Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in the Longfellow or Seward neighborhood to provide food to their neighborhood which was devastated by the social unrest that occurred after George Floyd’s murder. The unrest destroyed all grocery and drug stores there and created a food desert with enormous need. We can help.

c. Membership Committee is considering options for God’s Work Our Hands Sunday in September with social distancing.

Support caregivers/essential workers: Our Child Care Center remained open at first specifically for these folks. Now I have been actively asking for volunteers to help at Holy Trinity to give their congregation and staff a break.

Creatively use church assets to serve others, community: A growth edge for sure! But Foundation had planned (Pre-COVID) to give micro grants or loans to local nonprofits to address social justice issues in our neighborhood.

Respond to evolving needs – “We as church are not closed. We are learning how to “pivot”: Working on this daily- literally I have been asking the staff and leadership how we can be accessible in a way that the church members AND community KNOW that we are here and still ‘striving for justice and peace in all the earth’ (from the rite of Affrmation of Baptism).

 

 

Practice self-care: set boundaries, be kind – show grace to self and others. Think long-term: what will sustain you and our congregation? This is HUGE for me. I am intentionally inviting the staff to limit their hours of work – especially when working from home. And then being truly done when off the St. John’s clock. As for me, I too am working on creating a more regular set of hours, trying to improve my communication with the staff about those hours, and also trying to be aware of when I need to be away; though I must confess I am better at tending to others need for rest and time away and not as good at tending my own needs. However, recently Congregational President Lori Johnson and I have started a weekly check-in through Zoom on Thursdays, so that’s a much appreciated improvement. Also, I will be attending a week-long Continuing Education retreat in mid-August.

If these 7 models are indicative of churches that make a difference, I’d say that while we have a long way to go, we certainly are on the right road!

Thank you! Pastor Mark