Friday, November 12, 2010

A season of sharing

Where did the sharing start?

Over the past several months, our church has been taking brave steps in the area of sharing life with the greater Lutheran community. In January of 2009, First Lutheran joined in on partnering with SLYM - Shared Lutheran Youth Ministry. This partnership in youth ministry is the large umbrella in which First, Immanuel, Holy Trinity and Bethel Lutheran Churches participate by gathering on a weekly basis (Thursdays 6:30-8:30 grades 5-12) for faith building, fellowship and of course fun!

The SLYM program started it's second program year in September of 2010. There are group gatherings each Thursday evening, that are sometimes split into two age groups - middle and high school, but often the older students are invited along to assist in leadership and learning right along their Adult leaders. Another benefit of this partnership were two training events for volunteers in the SLYM program nights: Princeton Theological Seminary one day training in Cleveland and the ELCA Youth Minsters of WNY retreat at LCLC with presenter Charlie Roberts from Gettysburg Seminary.

The sharing started in this ministry, has begun to spill over into other areas of ministry and mission in the Lutheran community.

So what happened next?

This fall, two other shared ministries were started with the Shared Lutheran Adult Ministry Book club that meets on Thursday evenings (on a shared location basis.)at 6:30pm. This group has been reading and discussing, "Who Stole My Church?", and as a result of their progress, met with the SLYM youth in November for an open discussion night focusing on what the youth can give and need from the church. The sharing of mission and ministry has a way of bringing people together across all generations.

The other shared ministry that began in September, was our shared Confirmation classes. This group of 7,8 and 9th graders meet Sunday evenings on a bimonthly basis for group discussions, activities and a new curriculum called "Reform". This combined group of twenty-eight students are building a strong sense of community and learning foundational truths about the Lutheran faith. These meetings also rotate their meeting place to a partnership location throughout the program year.

With all this sharing taking place within the Lutheran community, it was only a matter of time before the sharing began to pour into the neighborhood! For the month of October, all SLYM partnership churches collected non-perishable grocery items to be gathered and delivered to Joint Neighborhood Project on Thursday November 11th. The group of twenty eight youth and adults loaded the groceries into JNP, helped to restock and organize the community food pantry and learned more about the work JNP does for the people of Jamestown.

Patty Perle, director for JNP, told the group that in the last year JNP had provided 90,000 meals for 10,000 people, equaling 1/3 of the population of Jamestown that was cared for by their ministry.

How can I get involved?

The youth of our churches were impressed by all the work that JNP does and continues to do in the holiday season and months ahead. Santa's Secret Shop is next on the list of projects for JNP on Saturday, December 11 from 9:00 to 11:30am at Immanuel Lutheran Church. JNP needs help from Santa's Helpers (over age 12) to help the kids pick out gifts for their special adults. She needs help from adults with: purchasing or donating gifts, bags, wrapping paper, tape etc for the shop, and then wrapping the gifts for the kids during the shop. There are about 130 kids scheduled to shop at this time with each child being able to select 8 gifts, so JNP needs lots of presents that these young children can purchase for 25 cents each.

John 15: 5 say this,
"Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

What else can sharing accomplish?
We all have gifts and abilities that God can use, and we must continue in the vine - in Christ - working together to fulfill the picture of a mission sharing Christian community. It just goes to show you that once sharing has started, just how far the ripples can travel, the vine branches can reach and God's love can impact our Lutheran community, our city and even the world. While sharing during this holiday season is very important, it's good to know that the season of sharing isn't limited to the holidays, but is a practice that can be celebrated each day! Thank you for sharing, it's making all the difference in the world.

If you would like to join in helping with any of these or other ministry opportunities, please call me at 969-3950 or contact JNP directly at 664-7101.

1 comment:

dianne said...

I haven't stopped to leave a comment in a while but just had to respond to this post. This is really encouraging to read and what a great idea. Ooh and I love your new blog look!