I work at an interesting congregation; we are small, but mighty! Our young people come to church with great grandmas, and grandparents, and parents, and aunts & uncles. Our congregation is alive with many generations and deep roots in Grundtvig Theology.
The neighborhood is changing over from retirees and empty-nesters, to young families who want to walk to their neighborhood church for their faith experiences. We have a diverse group of youth who will embark on this endeavor of becoming a public church. They will be the leading force who will ask our congregation what it means to be a public church in our community.
Our congregation serves well, gives well, and strives to reach out to those who need us both beyond and within our neighborhood. But our presence and work in our neighborhood is becoming more important to our congregation. Our youth go to different schools within different school districts, but they have established roots here at St. Peder’s and they care about this neighborhood, the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis.
This summer, our young people went on a mission trip to Puerto Rico. In the past, our preparation for these trips would have consisted of mostly housekeeping ideas and a little bit of faith formation. This year, our preparation focused more on deepening our faith and our understanding of the mission that was at hand. We worked hard to notice and unpack the need for deep justice down in Puerto Rico. We were also able to link our experience to the need for justice here in Minnesota. It was an honor to accompany the youth on this journey of discover. It is my hope that these transformative experiences will help carry our congregation into becoming a public church with our youth.
Right now these youth are keeping their eyes open for what our neighborhood might need, what our neighborhood might have to celebrate or mourn together. We are working to gather as much knowledge about our neighbors and neighborhood as we can. This will be key to seeing how St. Peder’s can continue to serve the Longfellow neighborhood.
But I am also wondering what our congregation needs in order to be successful at becoming a public church. How can our congregational leadership come alongside our youth leading this initiative and work together to implement these ideas? How do I encourage our congregation to work alongside of our young people as they are ready to take our congregation public? I’m not yet sure how to prepare our congregation to be receptive to this idea of being a church that is not only outside of our walls, but also outside of ourselves.