On Saturday, February 4, 2023, I participated in a panel discussion on church innovation for the Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ. The purpose of the panel was to share how some congregations have faced the challenge of remaining vital in this changing world. The creation of New Branches was one of the innovative options for church.
Others involved were Lyndale UCC with Springhouse Ministries (similar to New Branches), Robbinsdale-Parkway UCC as a result of two congregations merging, and Mayflower UCC who built housing in part of their parking lot and seeks to become carbon neutral in the coming years.
We shared the joys and challenges of these models for emerging church. We talked about the ways in which we address environmental and social justice concerns. How do we decrease our carbon footprint? How do we truly make reparations and attend to the needs of all our neighbors? Essentially the question is, how can church remain vital and connected to community in the coming years?
At Living Table, we’ve spent quite a bit of time and energy sorting out who we are and what we uniquely offer to New Branches and the surrounding community. We have many strengths for sure. I’m wondering how we can share these strengths more fully with the community around us.
I also realize that we are all still feeling the impact of pandemic on our energy levels. Grief weighs heavily even when we don’t talk about it. The bleakness of midwinter zaps our enthusiasm. Perhaps by the end of Lent, we will be ready for more intentional outward-facing activities if we engage in more intentional healing through the Lenten season.
As you know, I firmly believe that Living Table is a unique and vital congregation with much to share with the world around us. I’ve consistently said that we are the best kept secret in South Minneapolis. Let’s figure out how we can share this secret with those who could benefit from the love and joy that binds our community together.
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