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January 22 — Ecumenical Sunday and Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Interdenominational Cooperation Fund

A MOMENT FOR MISSION

“And Jesus said to them, ‘follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him.”
--Mark 1:17-18, NRSV


“A single person can sing a church hymn,” wrote Rod Stetzer in The Chippewa (Wis.) Herald (Dec. 2, 2011). “But a choir singing the same hymn gives it power.”

The Community Mission Coalition, an alliance of nine area congregations, is using that philosophy to reach out to the neighborhood. Two United Methodist churches — Trinity and Zion — are involved.

Tom Drehmel, a member of Central Lutheran Church, said he read an article in the city newspaper about another congregation’s teen program. He contacted the youth and outreach minister at the other church, and Central Lutheran provided 30 volunteers.

Later, youth in the two congregations collected more than 20,000 jars of peanut butter to send to the people of Haiti.

That planted the seed for the Community Mission Coalition, in operation since summer 2011. Participants contact service organizations in the community and ask what they need. Then they try to respond. So far, they have gathered diapers, laundry detergent, used eyeglasses and shoes.

Working with existing ministries prevents duplication of efforts. Children, youth and adults are involved.

“It’s driven by lay people,” Drehmel noted.

Today is Ecumenical Sunday, and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is Jan. 18-25. Both celebrate interfaith partnerships that link Christians and strengthen Christian unity through prayer and outreach. The Community Mission Coalition is a perfect illustration of the work God calls us to do together.

OFFERTORY PRAYER

Generous God, you give us so much, including opportunities to work and learn together. As we “fish for people,” open our minds and our hearts to new ideas and new ways of doing things so that your church may continue to flourish. In your holy name, we pray. Amen.
 

NEWSLETTER NUGGET

From sharing food pantries and housing people in transition to helping job hunters and feeding schoolchildren, congregations of many faiths combine their talents and people power to do amazing things.

It takes you back 2,000 years to Luke’s description of the early church in Acts 2 (The Message).

“And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.”

Not enough children or teachers for vacation Bible school? Check with the little Presbyterian church down the street. They might welcome the opportunity to work jointly with your congregation.

Wondering how to start an intergenerational ministry? Ask the Lutheran church in your neighborhood their secrets to success. See if your members can work with — and learn from — them.

Sure, our doctrines are not identical. However, our similarities far outweigh our differences. And people of all ages benefit in the process.

What a wonderful way to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!

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