I, like so many of you, am taking the time to enjoy some R&R this summer. This week I hope to--amongst other things--practice unplugging and being present as a means to renew and replenish my mind, body, and spirit. Thank you for all that you are doing this week to make my time away possible.
In my absence, however, I didn't want to leave you empty handed in this week's ePistle. Rather, I wanted to share with you an inspiring story out of Faith UCC in Iowa City. Faith UCC is a small church, with 20-30 in worship every week. But they have worked to do a REALLY BIG THING. They didn't do it through isolation or separation from their community...they did it WITH their community. Be sure to read the article below to learn more about the BIG THING Faith UCC has done.
St. Paul is doing BIG things too (Suds of Love, to name one). And we are able to do these BIG things (and BIGGER still) when we remember that we are not alone. We are not on an island in the middle of gently rolling hills filled with corn, we are part of a community. And when we work from a space of UNITY with our community, we are truly able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine. We are truly able to help draw the kin-dom of God nearer still.
So please, in this era of mega-churches and mega-budgets, do not underestimate the power and the reach of our little community of faith. Do not underestimate the love and justice that can be born from 2 or 3 people gathered together in Jesus' name. Do not underestimate what faith can do when faith works with others.
You are ALL in my prayers regularly, and especially this week.
(Click the picture to read the article.)
Rev. Melissa Sternhagen
Rev. Melissa Sternhagen was called as the pastor of St. Paul Congregational UCC in June of 2020. Prior to her call to St. Paul, Pr. Melissa worked as a hospice chaplain in the Ames, IA area, following pastorates at rural churches in Central Iowa and Southern Illinois. Pr. Melissa is a second-career pastor with a background in agribusiness and production & supply operations. She received her M.Div. from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO, and holds a MA Ed. in Adult Education and Training, and a BA in Organizational Communications.