Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Loving First Christian Church's Neighbors--Dialogue Column 7.24.07

Last week was a wonderful week in the life of our church. We helped carry out two ministries that demonstrate that First Christian Church is a community of believers that cares deeply about the community around us. We showed that we are interested in moving outside of the walls of our church to follow Christ’s teaching to love our neighbors.

The first ministry took place last Sunday at First Lutheran Church where we co-sponsored a screening of the documentary The Lost Boys of Sudan. By partnering with the Sudanese Community Association, First Lutheran and Francis Street First United Methodist, we demonstrated that it is not only possible but advantageous to everyone involved when Christians look beyond differences of doctrine and culture to help one another. It was wonderful to see First Lutheran’s sanctuary packed with people watching the film. Estimates were over 250 people attended. Even better was the dinner afterwards downstairs where life-long Americans and Sudanese newcomers alike shared food and stories. I am deeply grateful for those from First Christian who came to serve and help out at this event, especially Lynn, Dave and Theo Tushaus for preparing a huge quantity of soup! It was also wonderful to see a picture of our own Marilyn McMillen on the front page of the paper accompanying the story about the event. Yours truly also got a little press coverage, although in the newspaper article it was a quote of me asking about the menu rather than saying anything spiritually profound and on KQ2’s Live at Five they identified me as “Roger Lenander of First Lutheran Church.” The good thing is that our church’s name was out in the community as a faith community that cares about all people regardless of their national or ethnic background.

The second ministry took place at Nature Park at 10th and Powell where we led Vacation Bible School for neighborhood kids. We had 18 children take part; some kids were from our church, some were from the neighborhood and some were from Representatives of Christ Church across the street from the park. Matthew and Brenda Gregg, along with the many volunteers, deserve credit for organizing a fun week of crafts, songs, Bible stories and games. Although 18 kids is a perfectly respectable number for a VBS held by a church our size, it is only a fraction of the number of children within a few blocks of the church that need to learn about how much God loves them. Rather than being discouraged or intimidated by the number of children around us that we need to reach, we should instead feel proud that our church’s first significant attempt to reach out into our neighborhood went so well! VBS went smoothly and the children present had a great time. A number of kids simply showed up, because they were walking by and saw the fun going on. We also made connections with a fellow church in our neighborhood that we can partner with in the future. VBS was a wonderful first step of many future steps that First Christian must make in order to be the body of Christ in our neighborhood.

Together, let us continue to demonstrate the great love we have as a church for all of our neighbors.

Grace and Peace,


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