Singing, praying, learning, fellowship, and service – these are all things that bring us together each week within our community at Lord of Life. There shouldn’t be any surprise that the same things could bring together people from other communities, too. Our first REFORM event with Roman Catholics and Lutherans from West Chester and Mason exceeded our expectations of how powerful the experience would be.
We began with a worship moment led by musicians from St. Max, Christ the King, and Lord of Life (the next event will include leadership from St. John’s as well). Through common words and common songs, we infused the evening with a joyful prayer that continued into our conversations. We heard from Lutheran and Catholic clergy from St. Susannah Catholic (Mason), Prince of Peace Lutheran (Loveland), and Zion Lutheran (Middletown) who presented different views, but we heard even more common views. We listened to a biblical message that defined us all as part of the same vine. The same body. One faith, one hope, and one baptism.
I found myself at a table made up of Catholics from various parishes. We asked questions and discussed among ourselves how we each came to the body of Christ and what that means to us. About half the table had been born into the Catholic church. But one young woman shared how she found the church through an ecumenical sports team. An older gentleman started going to Methodist Sunday school after his mother died when he was nine, and then converted to Catholicism after years of seeing the positive impact the church had on his wife. We all had stories about how we saw people’s faith overflow in their actions.
The thread that kept weaving its way to the top was: “We need to do more of this.” We need to find ways to maintain the natural bond we have through Christ and the Spirit. We need to worship together and talk together and serve together. Our connection to each other is too powerful to let ourselves be kept apart.
As the clock forced the evening to a close, we put notes on a door describing how we wanted to move forward in our relationships. More combined worship. More dialogues. More learning. More outreach opportunities together. Singing, praying, learning, fellowship, and service.
Even though the next two REFORM events are self-contained – they are three separate events rather than one continued event, I suspect we’ll see some of the same faces coming again and again because we are so inspired to move forward as one body. Come be a part of the conversation on October 19 at 7 pm at Christ the King or October 21 at 10 am at St. Max.
The 2017-2018 Ministry Magazine is available in print at Lord of Life or by downloading the file below!
This Sunday! September 10
11 am - 2 pm
Sign up to serve!
Each year, the ELCA has a day of service to kick off the school year, called “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday. It is an opportunity for us to be the Church in the community as we serve and love on our neighbors and demonstrate God’s love among us and through us.
This year, we have three projects in store. We’ll be showering the West Chester Police Department and West Chester Fire Stations with food, posters, cards, and affection, helping with outdoor projects at Union Elementary, and setting up for Family Promise and preparing a delicious lunch for the entire crew.
We are collecting restaurant gift cards, snacks, and drinks to fill the baskets for the police and fire departments of West Chester. We will be showing our appreciation to a total of six stations. Items can be left in the narthex in the yellow barrel and gift cards left in the envelope provided.
If you plan on helping at Union Elementary, dress for working in the dirt, and bring any gardening tools you have to help with clearing brush and overgrown landscaping.
Mark your calendars now for this afternoon of serving. Sign up to serve, or just come on Sunday ready to work.
Intern Lucas McSurley
What a Spirit-filled experience! Our life-giving week hosting Family Promise once again revealed the beautiful ministry that can happen when we come together to be Christ at work in the world. In Butler County alone, there are more than 500 hundred children living in homelessness. Family Promise works to bring people together to respond to that need. Lord of Life came together: forty-three different people volunteered in many different ways throughout the week to provide comfort, safety, and hospitality to our Family Promise guests. Along with all those who were praying over Family Promise, I felt the impact of poverty and homelessness. Family Promise plays an important role in our claim that service is at the core of our calling to be the heart, hands, and feet of Christ. Although our work is never complete, it is important to pause and reflect on the impact we have made so far.
In January, we embarked on a visioning journey at Lord of Life with help from Luke Bouman. Our time with him and our following leadership conversations have been exciting, fun, and much needed as we continue to grow and look to the future. As part of our initial session, we gathered as a congregation and recognized our strengths, developed our short and long term vision, and drafted our five key goals.
As we identified our strengths, we listed Outreach, Music, Leadership, Youth, Being a Welcoming Community, and Worship. Luke shared with us that these strength areas are something every church strives for and, indeed, we are very blessed here.
As we continue to grow, it is important to transition to the next phase where we can further develop these strengths and ensure we are building the foundation for where God is leading us in the future. With this in mind, we identified these five key goals:
- Cultural shift toward mission mindedness
- Develop and implement a staffing plan
- Develop and implement a building plan
- Develop and implement a financial plan
- Council shift toward focusing on strategy
In the past few months, Council has been praying and working together to take the visioning journey to the next level. One of our first steps has been to shift our Council meeting times to being more strategic. This emphasis was important so we can spend more time developing plans for how we step into these five key goals and execute them with your help.
We are happy to share that we have developed areas of focus by year 1, 2 and 5 for the five key goals along with prioritization and quick wins. One such area is helping to support and staff the Ministry Area Coordinators (MACs) and increase collaboration where it makes sense. You will hear more about this soon!
We are just getting started and still have much to do. We give thanks for your partnership and continue to rely on your gifts and talents to help us build a strong foundation for growth. Look for more updates throughout the summer and contact President Ken Moore, or any council member or pastor, if you are interested in leading or helping with the ongoing visioning work.
Contact: Ken Moore
Stephen Ministry is a one-to-one care giving ministry that takes place in congregations that have a growing need to expand the ministry of caregiving. Churches that use Stephen Ministry equip and empower caregivers—called Stephen Ministers—to provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting. As followers of Christ, we have been called by God to love, support, and serve one another in community. If you believe that this kind of intentional and structured ministry might be how you want to answer that calling, you are invited to attend the informational meeting in August. Stay tuned for details. In the meantime, you are encouraged to prayerfully consider this opportunity to accompany and walk alongside others who are enduring the valleys of life. For further information, you can browse the website: stephenministries.org.
Contacts: Ava Fiebig, Lucas McSurley
The expanse of green space on our property gives us a unique opportunity to serve the community by growing food for our local pantries. The same expanse provides an especially fruitful hunting ground for one of nature's most keen predators. I love all the bunnies and chipmunks and squirrels so it is hard to stomach the idea that each day one of them becomes a victim of our resident hunter.
Mary Oliver, one of the greatest poets of our lifetime, gives beautiful imagery to the hawk's stalking of its prey.
Monday, August 27
Meet at Lord of Life at 9 am
Ready your hands to serve! Lord of Life is taking time to serve lunch at First Lutheran Church downtown in Over-the-Rhine. We will meet at Lord of Life at 9 am to ride down to First Lutheran, or you can meet up at First Lutheran at 10 am. First timers are welcome to take a tour of the historic building before we prepare and serve.
Monday, May 29 - 11 am
Ready your hands to serve! Lord of Life is taking time to serve lunch at First Lutheran Church downtown in over-the-Rhine. Donations of cookies, large boxes of Barbeque and plain chips, are needed. Volunteers needed to serve lunch. Donations can be dropped off at the church the week of May 21.