Last week I shared about how the Holy Spirit has been at work at Christ the King through our acceptance into the Congregations Lead Initiative offered by the Churchwide expression of the ELCA. Well...
The mighty winds of the Holy Spirit haven't stopped rushing there...they've been blowing among our council too.
A bit of backstory: for some time Christ the King has striven to be a welcoming and inclusive place for those from the LGBTQIA+ community. This goes back to CtK's roots and the leadership of Pastor Steve Nelson. Even before I was a pastor here at CtK and working with many congregations, I knew that this congregation had an openness to all people, including the LGBTEIA+ community.
But here's the thing...Lutherans who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community, don't necessarily know that we are a welcoming and affirming congregation. When we say, "all are welcome here," we literally mean ALL-- that's NOT the case in many churches. Because of that, there's an organization called Reconciling Works who partners with congregations to help them become what's called Reconciling in Christ congregations. Theses congregations are OPENLY welcoming and affirming to the LGBTQIA+ community. Here's a little video on why that matters:
So...in considering Christ the King's past and our core value of being welcoming and inclusive, the CtK church council has decided to begin the process toward becoming a Reconciling in Christ congregation.
Now...becoming an RIC congregation doesn't happen in a day, and it's not decided completely by the council. Rather, the ENTIRE CONGREGATION will have an opportunity to be part of this process of discernment. At the end of it all, based on how the conversation goes, the congregation will vote on whether or not to be an Reconciling in Christ congregation.
So what's next with this?
First -- our Reconciling in Christ team will attend a training on how to facilitate this process for our congregation. We give thanks for Sonja Dyreson, Jeff Otto, Laura Albrent, and Kelly Vils who will serve on this team.
From there, the team will open up opportunities for discussion and discernment on the scriptural and theological basis for welcoming and affirming LGBTQIA+ folks, and after we have all walked the journey of discernment together, our congregation will vote.
WHEW! That's a LOT of Spirit movement! But it's ALL good and ALL examples of how God's love is coming to life here at Christ the King!
Peace be the journey,
Can you feel that? That wind that's been blowing through here over the last week and is forecasted to continue through this week. To some it might just be the arrival of fall, but for us at Christ the King...it sure feels a lot like the Holy Spirit.
Recently we've had two BIG Holy Spirit nudges come through here....
First-- Back in August, we had submitted an application for a program offered by the Churchwide expression of the ELCA called Congregations Lead. Here's how the initiative is described on the ELCA website:
The Congregations Lead Initiative is a new, two-year program that will gather a cohort of 50 congregations from across the ELCA to unleash and harness their collective genius and discover new and useful ministry innovations. If you’re excited about more new, young, diverse people knowing a life in Christ, then your congregation might be a great candidate to apply for this initiative.
The ELCA seeks to activate each of us so that more people might know the way of Jesus and discover community, justice, and love.
Now...the application for this program was no small task. It included a written reflection, submission of names for our congregation's innovation team, and a video portion that showed off the creativity of our congregation. Honestly, I was pretty proud of the collaborative nature of the whole application process...it truly was a team effort that was fully inspired by the Holy Spirit. Here's the video part to give you an idea of what we submitted:
After the application process, we waited for what felt like FOREVER to hear if we were accepted into the initiative. And finally, last Friday we heard that we were one of the 50 congregations selected to be part of the cohort!
This is just the first step in the journey of innovation for us, but we have SO much to be excited about with our acceptance. Above all, we are giving thanks to our partners in ministry who have said YES to being on our Innovation/Congregations Lead team. Those partners are: Denise Barnaal, Kelly Vils, and Emilie Haessler. Please keep theses partners in your prayers as together we'll be participating in trainings and listening to how the Holy Spirit is leading us to innovate to meet new folks in our community.
Peace be the journey,
Start Me Up!
“Start Me Up” is a play on the first words from one of the Rolling Stones most popular songs that is played at many sporting events and was featured in the first Microsoft TV ad to launch Windows 95. The Windows ’95 operating system which has a “Start” button on the main screen and “Start Me Up” was one of the first hit songs used in a major marketing campaign and a great way to get started.
Slightly different from rock ‘n’ roll and Microsoft, “Start Me Up” comes to my mind as the revving up of a new learning year! This Sunday is the beginning of Sunday school. Monday is the beginning of Chris Ed. Wednesday is the beginning of Confirmation. There are a host of other “start me up’s” happening at church as we get revved up for learning more about Jesus! If you haven’t already signed your child/ren up, please do that today to get them involved in their faith formation at CtK.
“Start Me Up” also reminds me that we are near the time of our fall appeal. Your church leadership and staff have been working for weeks and months to prepare each one of us to evaluate our discipleship and involvement of our faith in everyday life. The theme for this year is “Think Outside.” A mailing has been sent to inform you and a second mailing will be coming next week to understand how you have been ‘blessed to be a blessing’ to God and others (Genesis 12:2). “Start Me Up” is a way of being fired up for Jesus! Consider the ways you can fire up your faith by giving back to others in service.
“Start Me Up” leads to the many walks happening this fall. There is the ALS walk for individuals and families who live with Lou Gehrig’s disease. NAMI has their walk for supporting and raising awareness for people who live with mental illness and for our community to better understand. Another walk is the CROP Walk of the Fox Cities – “We walk because they walk.” CROP Walk has existed a long time (40+ years) and is supported by many churches, including CtK. This year we are asking individuals to walk on their own, any distance or number of days to create awareness that there of people who walk a long way, every day for clean water, to get food, or for education. For years you have supported, fed, and given to CROP for those who do not have the basics of life that we have, but spend the majority of their day walking for them. On Sunday, October 10 after worship we will do a short walk and share in mindful meditation to create awareness about people in this situation.
Come on CtK! – let’s get “Started Up” to be the body of Christ each day of our lives and to be a ministry where God’s love comes to life!
Christ’s Blessings & Peace,
With the recent shift in my position to look specifically at high school ministry and innovation, I have begun some continuing education in design thinking, which is a process for innovation that is widely used in the business world. My first online course I'm taking is centered on bringing out the creativity of teams, and the homework has included exercises to attempt with our respective teams.
One of the big lessons of this week was: sometimes, in order to get to one really good idea, we need to free our minds of the really bad ones. This creates space for the good ideas, AND sometimes the the bad ideas just need a little tweaking to become good ideas.
So...to practice this and test this out, the assigned exercise for this week was a "bad idea brainstorm." As a staff we identified something that's been a challenge, and from there we each spent 5 minutes coming up with really bad ideas that would solve that challenge.
The challenge: Only two families have registered for Sunday school so far. We KNOW there are far more than 2 families with Sunday school aged kids in our church, and we have been trying to figure out ways to activate families toward registration and partnership with us in their child's faith formation.
5 minutes turned out quit the collection of BAD ideas! Here's a glimpse at a few....
After we each came up with as many bad ideas as we could, we took time to talk them over, to laugh, and to process. And you know what? Amazingly just the processing of the bad ideas led to a few good ones! All our staff needed was a little bit of time, some reminders to laugh, and some joyful nudges from the Holy Spirit.
Over the next months and years at Christ the King you can look forward to innovation and new ways of doing things. A bad ideas brainstorm is just the beginning, but it is one small step toward helping us recognize the abundance of gifts and skills we have in our congregation. There's a place and a use for all God's gifts, and we can't wait to see how the Holy Spirit leads us to utilize the gifts of our congregation for the sake of the world.
Peace be the journey,
We all know the line for Capital One credit card “What’s in your wallet?” Well, I though I would take off from there, to ask, “What’s in your backpack?”
As you know students in Wisconsin are back to school this week. If you have a child in school you know they are given a school supply list. In fact that list is way more than one backpack can handle. Why? Because the items are bulky like boxes of Kleenex and schools are really good at anticipating the supplies a student will need for the year. In addition, schools also know that if students are worried or do not have what they need for the classroom, they are more likely to be stressed about school and not perform as best of their ability. Another issue is that it costs more to be ready for school than some families can afford.
Thankfully, the people of CtK are generous and willing to respond to the needs of our community by supplying backpacks, folders, paper, pencils and much, much, more. We partnered with African Heritage Inc. and supplied them well. That is outstanding, but there is more.
The week after the supplies were handed out, there was a family who called the church in need of school supplies. We were able to locate more supplies and provide for this family, even after the weekend of passing out the backpacks was over. Wait, there’s still more!
Another local family came into the church seeking school supplies for the beginning of the new year. After meeting with them, we discovered the student needed more than supplies. We sent out a Facebook message and you responded with love and generosity! This student didn’t have the proper footware and clothing. You saw to it and that this student is prepared not only with classroom supplies, but they are able to have clothing and a water bottle to be more than ready! Thank you CtK!
What’s in our student’s backpacks? God’s Love. What’s in your wallet? Generosity! Thank you for being a place in this world where God’s love comes to life!
Christ’s Blessings & Peace,