Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Guiding theological question:
Guiding Scripture passage:
Signs of change:
Year 2 Activities
Year 1 Learnings
Resources Developed by Lake Park
- Congregational leader’s retreat — Fall 2019
Recommended Prayer & Study Resources
- In conjunction with a sabbatical experience we hosted a large congregational leader’s retreat where we asked the question about calling, and participation in “The People’s Church.” As part of that conversation we commissioned a resident artist to paint an altar piece that is more reflective of the larger people in our history and community. We also focused on a hymn by Nikolai Gruntvig called “Built on a Rock” in which we talked about not steeples or stones, but Christ’s living stones, us.
- We focused a good amount on the visual arts in our conversations about calling and had the most success in conversations this Advent around darkness and light as well as broadening cultural conversations around our society calling. Currently we are reading two books: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and Nobody Cries When We Die by Patrick Reyes. Both books talk about calling as much deeper than jobs or roles, but callings that come from the soil of our culture and because of the unique political/community challenges of the time.
Share one story that illustrates your congregation living out your mission:
One story that embodies our mission and our priorities is the story of the Aparicio-Castillo family. We met the parents (Jenny and Carlos) and children (Fabricio, Johnson, and Karla) through our sister church partnership in El Salvador. Jenny and Carlos, like many Salvadorans, struggled daily with the violence in their country. We spent many hours on Facebook and in person talking about these struggles over the next few years.
As Fabricio grew, the gangs began to target him (then 13), threatening and at times assaulting him as he went to and from school. We discussed the situation with their local church, their local Pastor Julio, and their local community. We learned from them and offered any care and support we could. As the threats got worse, Jenny made the very difficult decision to leave El Salvador, traveling to the United States and asking for asylum, with her three children. All along the way we talked daily. Upon their arrival to our area, Lake Park joined with them supporting them spiritually and financially and advocating legal help through the asylum process. But all of this could have never prepared us for the powerful and difficult spiritual journey ahead.
Seven months after his arrival, after officially beginning the immigration process, Fabricio died. We lost him as he was on a youth trip with another congregation in a drowning accident in Wisconsin. The death deepened and changed us all and revealed a common grief, love, and a common calling in our midst.
Through his life and death we began, as a congregation, to be more and more involved in true partnership. One fruit of that love has been a deeper involvement in immigration reform. Another is a local scholarship program in our local Salvadoran community. Another is singing together joyous songs in memory of Fabricio but also in a celebration Sunday after asylum was granted for the family this past year. We have begun to see a new way of living in relationship with all of our partners. We hope to continue to grow in God’s mission for us.