In these weeks before the Synod Assembly I am writing about things that we will deal with at the Synod Assembly. Last week I wrote about the renewal of the Montana Synod's affirmation of our 20 year old agreement with the Montana Association of Jewish Communities. The week before I wrote about our membership in "the new MAC," the reconfigured expression of Montana's ecumenical movement. And the week before that I shared about New Hope, the congregation scheduled to be officially recognized at the Synod Assembly.
This week I am writing about a ministry with children that has a long history, and that we are being asked to partner with. Intermountain Children's Home started as an agency for children established by the Methodist Church almost a hundred years ago. The agency has changed over the years, in response to changing needs. In the last several decades Intermountain has directed its focus on children who have been harmed by destructive relationships. Intermountain has an excellent track record and reputation, both in the state and nationally. They have a residential campus where children stay for up to 2 years and receive intensive care. And they have several satellite operations, as well as day programs. With their outreach and education programs they reach hundreds of families and individuals across the state each year.
Although Intermountain was founded by Methodists, the Presbyterians and the United Church of Christ now partner in governance. And the Montana Synod ELCA has been asked to join the partnership. The 3 churches who are currently the "moral owners" of Intermountain are already our full communion partners. The mission of the institution is consistent with our benchmarks. A number of our congregations already support Intermountain, through direct services, blankets and financial contributions. Entering into the partnership would give us a seat on the governing board.
And it would be another way in which we as the Montana Synod could support children, who are a priority for us all. We have all kinds of ways that we minister with children. In congregations we have Christian education and youth events, and we support efforts to alleviate child hunger. We have camps that welcome and enrich children of all ages and background, including a camp for at-risk "tweens." We support Lutheran Social Services as they work with birth mothers and adoptive couples, all for the sake of the children. And globally, we raise money to buy malaria nets to protect children, and invest in projects that give children everywhere a chance at a sustainable life.
At our Assembly we will vote to become partners with Intermountain as a way to become a part of a vibrant ministry to children. We are honored to be invited to be a part of this ministry, and hope that your congregation will include it in your prayers.
Jessica Crist, Bishop
Bishop Jessica Crist
Bishop of the Montana Synod of the ELCA