from the October issue of Atonement Chimes Call

We started out with our second FaithWorks festival up at St. Andrew. Although the festival once again provided a great time for everyone who came, we definitely had fewer visitors and fewer sponsors and sold fewer raffle tickets than last year, so the festival made a lot less money. We’ll need to reconsider whether a two-day festival is something we wish to continue next year.

Something we definitely want to continue is the joint worship we’ve been doing periodically for the last year and a half. The coming together of all of our FaithWorks congregations for worship, as we did that Sunday morning of the festival, is always a joyous event. And this last worship — with its giant brightly colored puzzle pieces reflecting our joining together to make something completely new — was no exception. It was great to see so many people from all the different congregations present — and we really could see everyone, since we worshiped in the round and the giant circle made all of us feel a part of the action. During the service, everyone present signed the huge center table made with the puzzle pieces, which we used as our altar. And at the end, we all took a little FaithWorks puzzle piece home — just to remind us that each and every one of us plays a vital part in this FaithWorks venture — without any one of us, the picture is incomplete.

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And that huge table created by the interlocking puzzle pieces is not just for show — it really does reflect what is happening among our congregations. Just within the last few weeks, the congregations of St. Andrew and Emmaus on the north side voted to begin worshiping together. On Reformation Sunday at the end of the month, everyone from both congregations will worship first for a month at one church and then for the next month at the other, switching off monthly. It is a huge move for both churches, now sometimes calling themselves “FaithWorks North” as they move into closer ministry and mission together.

And that commitment to be church together is being echoed here on the south side of Racine as well, as we at Atonement and Our Savior’s have also decided to follow the Spirit’s lead and take the next step in our affiliation. Warren calls it a “marriage” of our two congregations, and I think that’s a pretty accurate description. It will be a marriage — a uniting of two separate beings to form one completely new entity, one that shares characteristics of both partners, but is yet more than simply the sum of its parts. Like a marriage, our union will have its ups and downs, but also like a marriage, it will create a stronger body of Christ in this place — a more vital, vibrant congregation which can not only continue the ministries and mission of its two partners, but can begin new things — just as our God is always beginning new things in us.

By the time you read this, the Mission Council will have considered for the first time a comprehensive plan for FaithWorks. It probably will not be the final plan, but it is indication that things are moving. You should soon be able to see a finished plan. The hope is that the congregation will be able to vote on adoption of the plan at the 2014 annual meeting.

How exciting these time are — as God continues to work in and among all of us!

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