For nearly 16 years, I have been marinated in this place called Faith Lutheran. I have happily and expectantly walked through these doors, morning after morning. And with each day brought a wide range of challenges and opportunities. Much of this is true for any pastor or any employee. Here is the difference. Over the course of these years, Faith Lutheran has consistently done things that other congregations generally don’t do. The list is long:
- What other congregation would attempt a two-site ministry in a town of 13,000 people?
- What other congregation would hear a missionary from India speak and form its own 501(c)3 nonprofit organization (New Hope Mission Society) to support it?
- What other congregation would call and deploy a pastor to the WordAlone Network?
- Leave it to Faith Lutheran to call a 3rd full time pastor and have her (unwittingly) cause a firestorm by having a pastor (rather than a bishop) ordain her.
- What other congregation would receive the gift of a 6,000 square foot building and turn it into a Hope Center that serves our whole community, despite our church’s need for space?
- What church dedicates a major building addition and votes to withdraw from its denomination at about the same time?
- What other congregation launches an inter-generational FaithLife Camp, which had 90 participants in its first year?
- What other youth group has so many going on a mission trip that YouthWorks must ask the local Fire Marshal to authorize more space?
I could go on, but I think you get my point about the kind of ministry I’ve experienced in these past years. When you hang around “edgy” and “out there” ministry like that, it starts to work on a person. Pretty soon you find yourself pulling up stakes and taking a part-time call to a mission start congregation.
In the April Pastor’s Page and in much of what I have said since, I’ve tried to be clear about one aspect of the call that I have accepted. This decision has nothing to do with Faith Lutheran or the way I feel about it. But upon further reflection, I have come to conclude that this decision has EVERYTHING to do with Faith Lutheran and the way I feel about it.
This congregation does not ask “Why us?” Rather, it asks, “Why NOT us?” This congregation does not think that the call of God is for someone else or for some other time. I am confident that this is a “personality trait” of this congregation that will go on. But more than a personality trait, it is the call of the living God.
Faith Lutheran has left a deep imprint on Stephanie and me. We will always treasure this place. We leave with deep gratitude and thankfulness to you and to God. We will continue to pray for this congregation, especially leaders and staff in a time of transition. I have the same confidence about this congregation that St. Paul did about a congregation he knew well. “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6).
To God Be the Glory,
Pastor Randy Freund