This fall’s program year started with service to our surrounding community in an amazingly collaborative and Spirit filled way! Instead of hosting a Fall Festival or Rally Sunday for “our people” we kicked off the fall with God’s Work Our Hands Sunday! Emails, conversations, and meeting began swirling around the Cross of Hope leadership and council about joining in on this ELCA churchwide day of service all the way back in February! As we became more committed to this event, Church Council Member/Faith Formation Table Liaison Kate Sherman took on the coordination of the God’s Work Our Hands planning efforts and shared this initiative at a quarterly Collaboration Meeting we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ at Lord of Life Lutheran, also in Ramsey! This invitation for Lord of Life to join us in serving the community eventually became a significant part what made God Work Our Hands Sunday feel so successful!
While we had over 70% of our Sunday worship attendance from Cross of Hope signed up for service projects of all kinds after a shortened morning worship service, one (initially unintended) aspect of God’s Work Our Hands Sunday that literally everyone who has provided any feedback has mentioned is just how great it felt to be serving alongside people from another congregation as well! It just felt undeniably healthy for our congregation to be engaging in a church-wide community service effort that involved individuals from more than just our own congregation. Of the 12+ organized service projects, everyone of the service groups included members from both Lord of Life and Cross of Hope Lutheran Churches! God’s Work Our Hands Sunday became not only service outside our church walls, but also fellowship with other local Lutherans serving out in the community!
One participant I crossed paths with a few days later at our weekly text study group shared the following feedback: It occurred to me while we were in worship before serving, that on God’s Work Our Hands Sunday, we were engaged in every aspect of our mission statement together and to that I responded, we sure did, preach on sister! While there were certainly a few hiccups and aspects of the process that could use some refining, for all those who were involved (and even some who missed out), the most common feedback I have heard/received is simply: I hope we do this again! Given everything we have heard and seen from both those who served and those who were served, I can say with confidence that we will, and we ask God to help and guide us!