On February 4, 2017, eight members of Faith Lutheran Church gathered with members of four other Lutheran congregations for a session on collaboration at Trinity Seminary. Along with Faith, there were representatives of Grace of God, Linden, Hope, and First English. These are the congregations that have been involved in discussing a possible collaboration. The session was led by Pr. Katie Kerrigan, assistant to the Bishop.
Morning hours were spent divided in groups with representatives from each congregation.
Groups were each assigned different Bible studies from Acts and had three questions to answer:
1) What did God do? 2) What did people of faith do? and 3) What key lessons do you think any church should learn/remember from this study?. Two groups had the same bible study and it was indeed interesting that their answers were not duplicated.
The afternoon session put us back together with our own congregation and we had four questions posed to us. Answers were to be quick, but thoughtful (faith based and spirit lead) and each member jotted down on post-it notes their ideas. Questions posed were 1) What are your church’s physical assets? (Property, building, etc.), 2) What are your people or skill assets? 3) What are your associate assets? (area businesses, groups, what companies are represented in the congregation, etc.), and finally 4) What are your economic assets? (where does your money come from, do you have items to sell to raise money, etc.). As our answers were notated, they were posted on the wall, keeping each congregation’s notes separate.
After all questions were answered, we were invited to view all the posts for our church. We were then assigned an exercise to identify a new project for our church using the various assets we
had listed as a group and make a poster advertising our church and our new project. Faith chose to put more emphasis on a current project, “Time Out Tuesday” and used the catch phrase “Come see what is behind the cross” referring to our beautiful stained glass window. One congregation decided to bake communion bread and sell it to other congregations.
Finally, we were invited to revisit the wall of assets and choose at least one asset from another congregation that would help us be successful with our project.
We left with a paper to assist us with opening conversations with community leaders and individuals in our neighborhood to assist us in assessing their needs and to develop a positive relationship with the business/individual. Although this session did not address or discuss the nuts and bolts of how a collaboration among these five congregations might work, it was a worthwhile exercise to show us how we can collaborate with each other and use our strengths and shared assets to help each other. It was also presented an opportunity for more of us to get to know members of the other congregations and begin to develop a relationship with them. It was a positive day and taught us to look at what we have, not at what we don’t have.
“The future depends on what you do today” ~ Mahatma Gandhi