In Lent we are challenged to push beyond our comfort zone and help others. Many congregations have special projects, special ministry emphases in Lent. Our Savior’s Lutheran church in Columbia Falls is highlighting a different children’s ministry or outreach each week in Lent. It is an opportunity for congregation members to learn about the issues children face in our communities, and to make financial contributions. Our Savior’s is serving the world.
Pastor Kendra Wilde is not only a pastor at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Helena, she is also the President of MAC (Montana Association of Christians.) One of the primary things that MAC does is take the voices of Christian people to the Montana State Legislature. (Wyoming has a similar setup, through the Wyoming Interfaith Network.) Pastor Kendra and other faith leaders, both clergy and lay, speak at hearings, write letters, write op eds, and work hard to keep the voice of neighbor love alive and well in the midst of complicated discussions in the legislature. MAC is serving the world.
Loni Whitford, President of Our Saviour’s, Rocky Boy, and Secretary of the American Indian and Alaska Native Association of the ELCA, brought her daughter and friends and colleagues to a Rally for Medicaid Expansion in Helena on Saturday. An EMT on the Rocky Boys Reservation, she sees the effect of health care, and she sees what the absence of it can do. As a tribal member she knows that heath care is a treaty right. And she also sees that it is a human right. Loni, through her advocacy, is serving the world.
Many Lutheran congregations have soup suppers during Lent, and take up an offering for hunger-related causes. ELCA World Hunger, Bread for the World, local food pantries and meal programs are among the many ways that congregations reach out in the love of Jesus to their neighbors far and near. They are serving the world, especially the poor and those in need.
The Cape Orange Diocese, our companion synod in South Africa, works to share the good news of Jesus Christ in the poorest communities. Displaced from the choice areas during the Apartheid era, the church moved to the margins, and worked tirelessly for justice. Now, more than 2 decades since the official end to Apartheid, the church continues to work with the aftermath—racism, and economic inequality. The Cape Orange Diocese is serving the world, especially the poor and those in need.
Jack Siemens is an LPA, and President of Harlem Lutheran Church, where he is also serving as a Synodically Authorized Ministry in the absence of a pastor. He also preaches at Dodson Lutheran on a regular basis. In addition to his all-consuming church work, Jack runs the Harlem Food Bank, an outreach to hungry neighbors. Jack Siemens serves the world, especially the poor and those in need.
Spirit of Life serves the inmates in the Fort Peck Tribal Institution, with Pastor Christine Holler-Dinsmore. Both women and men receive pastoral and liturgical services, as well as encouragement and strength for their lives as they are released. Spirit of Life offers unconditional love and hope to people who have been rejected by society. They welcome prayer shawls, warm socks, and skirts. Spirit of Life serves the world.
This week NRIT is offering 2 opportunities to attend a continuing education event on “Theology of the Land.” Professor Eric Meyer of Carrol College will explore biblical and theological concepts through which Christians can understand and deepen their relationship to the land and fellow creatures. NRIT is serving the world that God so loves.
How is your congregation serving the world, and especially the poor and those in need this Lent? I’d love to be able to share your stories.
Jessica Crist, Bishop
Bishop Jessica Crist
Bishop of the Montana Synod of the ELCA