Lessons From My “Great Adventure”
Last month I hit the road for what came to be called my “great northern adventure”. I headed north to visit five of our churches in five days, four of them scattered just this side of the Canadian border. My first stop was Faith UCC in International Falls (Reverend Sue Hamly, pastor). Then I ventured a bit farther west to the three congregations of the Rainy River Regional Parish pastored by Reverend John Tschudy: United Congregational UCC in Birchdale, First Congregational UCC in Baudette, and Pilgrim Congregational Church in Williams. From there, I meandered south again for a visit at Union Congregational Church in Hackensack (Reverend Michael Small, pastor).
My time with these five congregations included (just as a sampling) attending one church’s fundraising breakfast, dinner at the lake with church members, a potluck meal in the church basement with congregational leaders, and preaching at the 100th anniversary celebration of our congregation in Williams. I even managed some wild blueberry-picking thanks to the hospitality of Reverend John and Carol Tschudy!
By far the most precious part of this adventure for me, however, was the time spent in conversation with members and pastors of these five amazing churches. Each congregation had its own unique challenges, opportunities, history… and personality! Yet as I reflected on my visits while driving home that last day, I realized that amongst all those conversations, two themes had clearly emerged.
- They all loved their churches with a passion.
- They were all working hard to discern, in some shape and fashion, how God is calling them to witness and to serve in this particular moment.
Isn’t that the task all of us share, to channel our energy and love as the Church into the work that God is calling us to? We are, after all, not just any social club. We are a people gathered by a particular faith with a particular purpose: to authentically and extravagantly share the love of God in Jesus Christ.
What that looks like in any of our specific contexts is a matter of faithful discernment, and sometimes that is very difficult work. I am so grateful to all of our congregations in the Minnesota Conference for engaging in that work with such heart and sincerity. And I am grateful for the privilege I have as your Conference Minister to be your partner in this “great adventure” we share.
With gratitude for all you do,
Reverend Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister
P.S. Do you wish a visit to your congregation had been part of my “great adventure”? I’m happy to embark on other such multi-church visits. Give me a call!