Bing tracking

Faith in Action: Reflecting God’s Relational Essence

A round table of a team during our last learning community looking down at their prayer walk. "I have been trying to figure out this whole time what our project would be at the end of this, but I’m realizing…Relationships are The Project... Alice in our RIH Learning Community"In between our learning events, our facilitators Geoffrey and Brenna spend time with the congregations in cohorts. We asked Brenna and Geoffrey to reflect what they are hearing and experiencing with their learning cohorts.

Brenna’s Reflection

As we journey together through our season of accompaniment, our teams are learning a lot about their neighbors and what it means to be a public church. In our March cohort meeting we heard stories of engaging with schools, local police, members in our congregations, and local pastors from other churches. Our teams have begun to explore their neighborhoods on prayer walks and they’ve been meeting in local coffee shops and restaurants to listen and learn. They’ve engaged in public forums and local events and even attended Iftar dinners with their Muslim neighbors. Their curiosity and love for their neighbors is growing and it culminated in an exciting moment at our March cohort meeting where one of our team members interrupted the sharing time with an epiphany, “I have been trying to figure out this whole time what out project would be at the end of this, but I’m realizing…Relationships Are The Project”. They’re starting to catch it, knowing and loving your neighbor is the whole goal.

Geoffrey’s Reflection

Many teams are slowly and steadily unfolding how to express the purpose of this work. In a meaningful conversation, Pastor Andrea, from Diamond Lake Lutheran, one of our mentor congregations, asked team member Kurt, why does this work matter? Remembering what Jeremy Myers said, at the accompaniment learning event, Kurt emphasized that our mission aligns with the biblical narrative of accompaniment—God is a relational God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This insight compels us to genuinely live out our faith, walking with and being in trustworthy relationships with our neighbors just as Christ did.

A thread that underlies every team is embracing change, everybody is moving at their own pace but all reimagining their role as the church in today’s world. This shift has been deeply emotional, bringing up forgotten and unforgiven threads that were swept under the rug. Walking through this shift, we are carefully tending and deadheading our spiritual gardens, and we are encountering a mix of grief and opportunity. Clearing the debris; composting and making space for new growth and blooming.

Alas, all this work brings up feelings of loss and hope. Grieving has been a recurring theme and an integral part of our conversations, it reminds me of a kind of enduring, like a mother pregnant with new life and physically going through a transformation to welcome and raise a new being into the world. This process as we learn or more accepting requires us to slow down and break the agenda, to pause and deeply reflect, making space for both lamenting what was and anticipating what will be.

As we adapt, it’s clear that many teams are ready to step into this new path and some of us are struggling forward into a new possibility of a deeper and more profound relationship with God, church, and neighbor.