No, I am not talking about an Apple product. I am referring to the ecumenical organization founded 41 years ago as the Montana Association of Churches. In 1973, the year of MAC’s founding, ecumenism was a fairly new and fairly edgy thing. There was a predecessor ecumenical body, but it included neither Lutherans nor Catholics. In 1973, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, American Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Disciples and the UCC came together to form the Montana Association of Churches. Bishops or their equivalent from each denomination signed the organizing documents, and a 4 decade history began.
Much has changed in the last 40 years, and MAC is changing, too, to keep up with the changes in society. The model that made sense in 1973 no longer works. So a task force, headed by MAC President Pastor Peter Erickson, wrote new bylaws that changed how MAC operates. The MAC Annual Assembly this week adopted the bylaws changes and the Montana Association of Churches is now officially the Montana Association of Christians.
What does this mean? Previously MAC was a representative organization with voting members based on the size of the denomination. Now MAC membership is open to judicatories (like the Montana Synod ELCA), to congregations, to individuals, and to organizations that share and affirm MAC’s vision. Here it is:
1. Our Covenant: We covenant as ecclesiastical judicatories, congregations, non-profit organizations and individuals in Montana to make visible our unity in Jesus.
2. Our mission: We are called together by God to
a. Pray together as one
b. Be present in our state’s broken places
c. Walk in the freedom and openness of the Holy Spirit
3. Our values: faith, unity, justice and compassion
The Montana Synod is a part of the new MAC. And I have signed up personally to be a member. I invite you to be members, too, as individuals and as congregations. MAC’s new structure is designed to be more flexible and more open than our old structure. We invite people to join us in Christian witness.
Your ELCA representatives at the Assembly were: Jeff Bolstad, Mark Goetz, Trudi Schmidt, Sharon Odden, Pr. Grant Barnett-Christensen, Pr. Amanda Liggett, Pr. Carol Karres, and Pr. Jason Asselstine. Pr. Peter Erickson chairs MAC, and Pr. Daniel Disch and I serve on the Board (now Council.) Pr. Rob Nedbalek was also there.
In recent years the Wyoming Association of Churches also re-organized itself, and Pr. Tim Trippel served in significant leadership for years. Pr. Tonya Eza now serves on the Board.
For more information on how to become part of the New MAC, contact Pr. Peter Erickson, firstname.lastname@example.org or MAC email@example.com.
Bishop Jessica Crist
Bishop Jessica Crist
Bishop of the Montana Synod of the ELCA