Scenes from FaithWorks leadership retreat, December 1, 2012
Scenes from FaithWorks leadership retreat, December 1, 2012. (Click to embiggenify.)

by Rev. Michael Mueller, St. Andrew Lutheran Church

Seventy-five people packed the small worship space and an adjoining room. The time of Advent brings the promise that God still comes to us. That hope was also in the room. Twelve of us from St. Andrew joined others from Atonement, Emmaus/Emaús, Our Savior’s and Redeemer, committing the day together – despite the unseasonably warm weather outside and all the other demands of December.

Our commitment paid off. We built new relationships in small group conversations throughout the day. We were led well by our facilitator, Dave Daubert, an ELCA pastor who leads congregational renewal work for the ELCA. An excellent translator helped bridge the barrier between Spanish- and English-speaking people.

We shared a sense of working together on something exciting and new. At the end of the day, some of us felt impatient that we hadn’t accomplished more concrete results. On the other hand, that whole roomful of people had shared the experience of the day and was looking forward together toward the future of our partnership. And some of our small groups had actively explored specific ideas for action.

We learned that the risks we’ve taken to get this far already place us at the front end of the curve, in terms of creatively meeting the challenges that are now facing the whole church in our part of the world. One of us reflected that even the feelings of impatience are a gift from that day, because they ensure that we won’t stop now.

The FaithWorks partnership is moving forward, led by God’s Spirit. During the next few months we will discern how the Spirit is inviting us to share the gifts and resources we have been given, so that the work of God’s mission can be done even more fruitfully among us.

FaithWorks retreat participants from St. Andrew included Greg Kaser, Mike Metz, Don and Linda Peterson, Brian Fuerstenberg, Jan Brunnelson, Jan Kasbeer, Dave Rhoads and Sandy Roberts, Carol Baumgartner, Emma Mueller and Pastor Michael Mueller.