This weekend I spent time visiting the Panhandle conference again. Our seminarian, Sean McConathy, invited me to visit his congregation in Lockney, so I decided to make it a full weekend and have some conversation with a few Lubbock area councils. In November, the councils of Shepherd King and Gloria Dei met to discuss their mission and purpose and whether it was time to consider shared ministry in some form. In Saturday, we added the councils of St. Paul in Levelland and Trinity in Clovis, NM as they are already sharing Pr. Eric Saed. 26 people spent their Saturday afternoon with me, digging into good conversation and brain storming. We are keeping all doors open at this point. Sunday morning found me at Trinity Lutheran in Lockney (Providence) just east of Plainview. It was three years since I had taken Sean out there to introduce him to the congregation to see if they would be open to serving as his teaching congregation while he did his contextual learning for his Master of Divinity from Wartburg Seminary. Sean is one of several candidates in our synod now who are engaged in this collaborative learning program.
It was a joy to see how much this relationship has blossomed. I got to observe Sean reviewing Holy Communion meaning and practices with his students who are now receiving communion as new recipients. They also helped him in serving communion for worship – which delighted me totally! The kids at Trinity truly do see how worship and the church community is for them as much as for the adults.
But first communion wasn’t the primary reason Sean chose this Sunday for my visit. The congregation has a potluck every first Sunday of the month. He knew they would feed me well. And they sure did!
Extra bonus: I got to observe more of Sean’s interaction with his congregation, including his prayer before the meal as they all gathered in one big circle. (I had to also include a pic of the sign of a real southern potluck- the sweet and unsweet tea signs.)
Sean has also been challenging the congregation with special projects like their Lenten project. This small rural congregation with an average of 30-40 in worship is putting together 450 hygiene bags with things like soap and shampoo and socks, but also water color crosses that the families are doing in their homes throughout Lent, and some family devotions in each bag. Yes, I said 450. They are working with a local agency that helps families in many of the surrounding communities who live in low income housing. Those families will all be receiving these gifts of cleaning supplies, personal hygiene, and messages of God’s love from this amazing congregation.
This visit did my heart tremendous good as we are still seeing fallout of Covid, divisions in our country and congregations, and warfare now in Ukraine. It is easy to focus on grief and despair but this weekend was a much needed lift with so much hope. I am grateful.