All Things Messiah
Please join us Tuesday, July 15 from 6-8 p.m. for a Salad Dinner, and hear Guest Speaker, Dr. Leslee Jaeger!
Join us for a great educational and service opportunity to help raise awareness about sustainable feminine hygiene solutions in the developing world. We’ll meet in Heritage Hall, enjoy a salad dinner, and hear Leslee Jaeger, Founder of Helping Haiti Work. Leslee is an OB/GYN physician at North Clinic in Maple Grove. She travels frequently to Haiti, and is sending resources for Haitian women to manufacture and sell reusable menstrual pads to community hospitals and at market. During the evening’s service opportunity we will help cut the material necessary to create the pads.
The cost for the evening is $5. Please RSVP to Kami Pohl, Director of Faith Groups and Mission, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more about the mission of Days for Girls at www.daysforgirls.org.
by Steve Richards
Pastor Steve’s blog can be read at www.pastorsteverichards.com.
During the months of June and July, I will be taking what is officially called a “Formational and Spiritual Growth Leave”. Every six years, clergy are invited to consider a leave in order to give attention to their own soul. I was reading a study recently which found that such leaves benefit both the church and the pastor. This is my hope.
My Covenant Group has a weekly memory verse. The verse was our focus during one week in May. Some translations use the word foreigner, others use the word stranger. I’ve actually been reflecting on this verse for many months. What is it like to be a foreigner or a stranger? If I ever knew, I’ve forgotten. This is an experience that I am seeking during June and July.
Amanda and I will leave on May 29 to spend five weeks in Tanzania and Ken- ya. We plan to visit several mission projects including those Messiah supports. Mostly, we hope to live outside our comfort zone among Kenyans as a way of learning about and experiencing the culture. We, of course, cannot blend into the culture and will be the strangers, at times experiencing challenges that come only when one is a stranger. In previous trips to Kenya, we have been part of a group. This time, we will be traveling on our own.
Although, we will serve at some of the mission sites, mostly we want to be able to wake up each morning and say, “Thank you for a new day. Here we are, God, how can you use us today?” I believe God will provide the direction. Amanda is a mental health professional and hopes to make connections and offer herself as a resource related to addiction, rape, and sexual assault.
These experiences will inform my ministry and surely shape what you hear from me upon my return. Most of my adult life has been spent in suburban communities, and I haven’t understood the challenges faced by immigrants from other countries who suddenly find themselves as strangers in a strange land. This will give us, albeit short, a taste of what it means to enter into anoth- er culture and live.
In July, I will focus more intentionally on my soul by entering into the daily pat- terns of prayer and worship at Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey in Pecos, New Mexico. This will be an extension of my “stranger in a strange land” experi- ence as I go to the desert to spend time alone away from the distractions of the world. Once again, I will be listening for God’s guidance and direction.
I will return to begin preaching on August 5. While I am away, Lyndy Zabel will be your first point of contact. He will be with you most Sundays in worship. You will have an opportunity to hear other preachers as well. As I am able, I will share reflections during this leave at a blog: www.pastorsteverichards.com.
Thank you for allowing me to take this extended time.
In Christ’s love,
You may recall a time being at a church worship service when attendees could stand up and voice prayer requests. This time would allow others to voice joys, concerns and even birthday announcements. This special segment during the worship hours allowed members/guests to voice a need or hope for a loved one, along with announcing celebrations and maybe even signing happy birthday to the recipients!
Messiah was a participant of this previous practice in its worship services, but it was phased out in the 1990’s as the church expanded and time became limited to take all these requests. Now members are encouraged to express prayer needs, joys and concerns with the pastors and staff, to be followed up during the week. “Messiah’s Congregational Care Team works diligently to make sure they reach out to all those in need. However, there was a fear of making sure no one was forgotten in a time of need and to convey hope,” said Pastor Dick Ellis.
From this came the creation of the Messiah Barnabas Ministry, a ministry of encouragement as a entity within the Congregational Care Team at Messiah. This ministry, created in 2003, consists of dedicated people seizing the opportunity to encourage others through life’s many challenges. It provides wishes and prayers for health and healing of others, expresses appreciation for good works, and welcomes new members and babies. The ministry also acknowledges special events and expresses sympathy.
Each week a member of the Barnabas team writes personal notes to members of Messiah’s church family. These handwritten notes express their love, prayer, concerns, joys and share the gift of hope through Christ’s love for them.
“When we looked into the development of this ministry area, we had an immediate response,” said Pastor Dick. Messiah Barnabas Ministry is lead by Pastor Dick’s wife, Mickey Ellis. From the start, the couple has worked with the Congregational Care Team to develop a list of individuals to reach out to each week and provide cards. The Barnabas Ministry team has evolved as they witness the impact and the power of these handmade or purchased cards as a message of hope.
Barnabas Ministry reaches out to people with the mission of hope, celebration and encouragement while showing the recipient that its church cares for them, in a special way. “No one wants to be forgotten, and these cards remind others that we aren’t,” said Pastor Dick.
“Those serving on the Barnabas Ministry Team work together well. The weeks in the year are divided out and assigned to each member. There is a Barnabas box located at the Messiah office for pick up each week, with both handmade and commercial cards for their use,” said Mickey. There is a binder of the weekly assignment list with resource ideas for notes, return labels, and prayers and phrases to help the writer generate ideas for the cards. The Congregational Care Team provides a list of recipients along with only an address and the type of note to be sent. No personal or event specifics are ever divulged.
“Our notes are prayers and words of hope and encouragement and they are sufficient for God knows the details,” added Mickey.
The cards are signed by The Messiah Barnabas Ministry with the authors of the cards writing heart-felt messages and scriptures/stories and other messages of encouragement, love and as always, hope for today and what lies ahead.
The Barnabas box is passed on to another member each week, with notes to be written and then brought back to Messiah to be stamped and mailed, though at times members of the Barnabas team have used their own stamps!
There is also another group of volunteers that help the Barnabas Ministry. Each year, Mickey will reach out to Messiah volunteers interested in making cards for the Barnabas Ministry. These gatherings have become a fun tradition for many scrapbook makers and those who like to let their creativity come alive. The day is spent making various cards, along with great fellowship together and a meal.
Pastor Dick mentions that it has been a common occurrence to see these Barnabas cards in the homes of those he visits months following its delivery. The conversation may never bring up the cards, but those cards hold meaning to those who receive them, as they are placed in their homes as a wonderful reminder of the love Messiah extends to them.
“May these cards always be looked at from the recipient as not a piece of junk mail, but a personal connection and that their church cares. We are touching these people’s lives and giving them hope,” added Pastor Dick.
Another area the Barnabas Ministry is serving is through its birthday project. The goal of this program is to send birthday cards to Messiah members 70 years or older, during the month of their birthday. Volunteer Carol Baker prepares and send the cards each month. Drawn into the work of Christ, Carol works on these cards to be distributed twice a month. The cards are signed by The Messiah Pastors and the Barnabas Ministry Team.
Mickey adds that this is a special working relationship the team has with Carol, as she seeks outside transportation to come to Messiah and is not a member of the church. She has felt called to the Barnabas Ministry, and the birthday project was an ideal fit for Carol to serve others.
In an era where the notion of reaching out to someone is usually in the form of a email, text message or Facebook post, a postmarked card is becoming a lost tradition of communications. However, the Messiah Barnabas Ministry Team is using a timeless method of touching people, as they offer their words of encouragement with each card that arrives in a mailbox.
Messiah Barnabas Ministry mail delivers HOPE.