Missional Innovative Partnerships and the New ECMN Retreat Center

15340321958_f639d2b085_bWith the beautiful yellow, orange, and red colors bursting all around us it was abundantly clear we were transitioning to the long season of dormancy. And yet, on this day, we were all about new life…about resurrection!

It began with a very imaginative conversation. Others were then invited to share their visions. This can often be the most challenging part of the process. Once there was clarity from this imaginative phase, the next step was engaged: implementation. And now that ‘it’ has come to fruition, any and all are being asked to reimagine all the possibilities.

Two weeks ago we held our first gathering at the new ECMN Retreat Center, located on the beautiful campus of Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault. It was a historical moment for countless reasons as we once again occupied the space that was the birthplace of Seabury Seminary. It was, at its core, a time for truly reclaiming our deep, missional roots.

It was also incredibly iconic of a Missional Innovative Partnership between ECMN and Shattuck-St. Mary’s. Missional, as in engaging and sending; Innovative, as in imagining – implementing – re-imagining; and Partnership, as in building capacity.

What I now invite all of us in ECMN to do is to begin to imagine all the possibilities of how you could utilize your new retreat center…especially as you and your faith community explore possible Missional Innovative Partnerships.

Standing on the Shoulders of Those Around Us

FullSizeRender (2)Standing there feeling incredibly uncomfortable, as if a bright light was being shined in my eyes, a moment of grace happened, and my focus turned to the front pew where my beloved and others were sitting. The occasion was the Church Divinity School of the Pacific Alumni Convocation to celebrate the honorary degree recipients, and I was humbled to be one of them.

Honestly, being complimented is, and has been for a long time, a growing edge for me. Thus, standing there in the chapel while a litany of accolades were being read was very challenging. That was until I changed my focus to the aforementioned pew.

The epiphany in the moment was that all of the cited accolades where shared. Family, friends, and colleagues are all full participants or teammates in whatever has been accomplished. I have accomplished nothing on my own; it has always been a team effort.

The consistent message I shared with those I was fortunate enough to coach, was that we stand on the shoulders of those around us, and those who have gone before us. That is, for me, the foundational understanding of what it means to be the body of Christ.

So with that said, thanks for being a part of the team…a part of the body of Christ!

The Incarnational Experience of the Gospel Story of the Widow’s Mite

Photo Credit: James Tissot [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“The Widow’s Mite” by James Tissot

I walked into their sweltering hot, cinderblock home that had nothing but dirt floors. Immediately my senses were on overdrive. The large gathering of multiple generations who happily knew this as home, were laughing and talking all in rapid fire Spanish. The air was filled with this beautiful aroma of spices; it was beckoning me to the kitchen. And there were little niños who embraced my hands and clung to my legs as I made my way through the house.

“Hola Padre!” said the matriarch as I entered her bustling kitchen. “I’ve brought chicken!” was my exuberant greeting to Maria… and the look on her face, and that of everyone else in the crowded kitchen, said it all. Their overwhelming gratitude was beyond humbling. Meat was not a regular staple for these folks. It was an economic choice for this family, not conscious objection.

Every time in church when I would tell them I would like to come by for a visit, the response was always the same… “We will make a meal!” To which I always responded, “Absolutely not necessary.”  But they did as promised, and made what they could with what they had, and with gladness they celebrated my visits. This family was the incarnational experience of the Gospel story of the widow’s mite (Mark 12: 41-44 / Luke 12: 1-4).

A week and a half after our ECMN Convention, I am blown away by the countless stories of how folks are working on Ending Hunger in Minnesota. I continue to hear the words of our Convention keynote speaker, Rob Zeaske, “Hunger is the most solvable problem in Minnesota.”

What I am proudly witnessing thus far is that ECMN is rolling up our collective sleeves and going to make Ending Hunger in Minnesota a reality! Blessings on your long term efforts! Blessings on your new endeavors! Blessings on the new missional partnerships you are establishing! We can do this, Episcopal Church in Minnesota!