Synod Assembly 2018

Reflections From Synod Assembly
Andrew and Susan and I were the delegates from St. Paul Church to this year’s New England Synod Assembly in Springfield.
 It was both more difficult, and less work, than I thought it would be.
 More difficult in that it was very difficult to hear, in detail, about all the problems in the world worthy of our attention, efforts, and prayers:

  • Immigrants and immigration, for example.
  • Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people, and queer folks, for example.
  • Women, for example.
  • Israel and Palestine, for example.
  • Global environmental catastrophe, for example.

A person of faith must not turn their back on suffering; and there is a lot of suffering in the world. More than a lot. So much is bad, in fact, that it makes you doubt that anything will ever improve: there is just no point in trying.
 But there was that two-word phrase in there, that two-word phrase that means it’s going to be less work too. “Of faith.” Of Faith. OF FAITH. It kept coming up. In the very first sermon on Thursday when we walked in to the hall. A woman pastor from a Lutheran Church in Jerusalem, Rev. Carrie Smith, spoke directly to me and said it was going to be all right, the healing is already occurring.
  
The phrase was there in the words of the candidates for Bishop as we went from two, to three, to four rounds of voting. Jim Hazelwood is our Bishop again, by the way.

 It was there again in the words of the very last sermon we heard, preached at the closing worship service. A woman minister from the Massachusetts Council of Churches, Rev. Laura Everett, gave the most articulate, entertaining, convincing, passionate sermon I have ever heard. The work of God, the work of Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit is happening now, right now, right here, right in the middle of the muck, and if you have faith, if you are OF FAITH, you know that, you see that, you can take that and run with it. Whatever the problem, you are not born to decline. You are born to succeed.
 
Susan and I were both proud, and exhausted, to be your delegates to Synod Assembly. There is a lot of work for us in this Church to do, and you’re going to be hearing about it too, coming soon. But it’s God’s work (our hands) and if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
 
One other thing, and this was uber cool. The hall was lousy with former vicars of St. Paul Arlington:

  • Tim Oslovich
  • Susan Henry
  • Andrew Heisen
  • Douglas Barclay
  • Alissa Oleson.

Makes a person feel proud of where he goes to church.
-Lionel Goulet & Susan Lee

Kristy Moore reflects on her Reach the Beach race and love for Camp Calumet


 
            Hello, everyone! My name is Kristy Moore. I am a member here at St. Paul along with my husband, John Christianson, and our two boys, Isak and Jordan. As many of you know, Camp Calumet is the outdoor ministry of the ELCA New England Synod. It is a beautiful, lakefront, year-round camp and conference center. St. Paul has a long history with Calumet, notably two certain former members who are now running the camp, Executive Director, Karl Ogren, and Director of Development, Knute Ogren. I remember coming to St. Paul on many occasions related to Calumet, whether it be our winter staff reunions, or hosting a Bunch of Guys concert during their Take a Breath "tour". St. Paul continues to support Calumet's ministry. 
 
            For the last 6 years, Calumet has fielded teams in the 200-mile relay race called Reach the Beach (RTB). The race runs from Bretton Woods to Hampton Beach and takes over 24 hours to complete. A team of 12 splits into 2 vans and make their way, one leg at a time, 36 legs total, from the mountains to the beach. It is also our annual fundraiser for Calumet’s campership fund. On Sept 16-17, I ran with Calumet again this year, for my second RTB. My 16 miles total were beautiful, and yes, tiring on only an hour of sleep! But, it is rewarding knowing the money we raise helps young people and families around New England (and beyond!) to be able to experience the beauty and Grace of Calumet. We have raised over $80,000 this year!
 
            I wanted to take a moment to share with you all what this place means to me. John and I met as kids at Calumet and worked on staff together for many springs and summers. This place is my tonic, my refuge, my solace. It is the place where I fell in love with the Lord, the Earth, and my husband. It is the place where my older son learned to ride a two wheeler, and where my younger son first told me he loved me. It is the place where the sun broke through the clouds the exact moment I entered the outdoor chapel with my parents on either side of me in my white dress and the lyrics of Just As I Am filled my ears. Yep, we got married in the place where we met, the place where we both learned about lifelong friendship, hard work, social justice, leadership, God's Grace, the joy of children, and the healing power of the breeze along the lakeshore.

            The real beauty of camp is that it taught me how to be ME in the midst of those confusing mixed messages of life and love and religion and morality. Are you here or there? Are you devoutly obedient or a charlatan? Are you reserved and reverent or shallow and shameful? Well, maybe I'm both and neither! Aren't we all? Sinner and saint, right? But this place, this temple, allows that paradox to have a space, and makes you feel safe to unpack it in the calm shadow of the Cross or in the glassy mirror of the lake at sunrise.

            And now, at the end of every summer I have the privilege of witnessing the next generation fall in love with it too. My friends and I get to watch our kids create, compete, explore, concede, sing, and soar like we did. As we walk down the many paths between the soccer field and the lakefront cabins, or between the archery field and the mini-golf course, or up the nearby mountain trails past all the family campsites, I watch them as they bike side by side in front of us and wonder what secrets they'll keep for each other... and from us. I delight in the fact that they will protect each other the way my friends and I protected each other. What will their camp stories be? In the meantime, I am giddy with the knowledge that my camp story continues to be written, not as a young camper, or a counselor, or a trip leader and wilderness first responder, not as a department head, and not as a leadership trainer for the next generation... but as a Mom.

            Calumet is the single most influential place in my faith formation and that is why I join the efforts in running Reach the Beach, so that campership can be available to ANYone who needs one. Many of you have experienced the joy of Calumet yourselves. Please consider a donation to contribute to these funds that allow children, who would not otherwise be able to afford camp, to go and have the best week or two of their lives! You can learn more about Calumet, RTB, and how to make a donation at: www.calumet.org/followtherace. Even though the race is over, donations are still coming in! Thanks so much.


Blessings,
Kristy Moore

Serving on St. Paul’s Intern Committee: What I’ve Learned Eric Haugen, Committee Chair

As I write this, St. Paul is in a transition period with our Vicars. Alissa is off to her first call at Good Shepherd in Quincy, and Alex Clark will join us next week to begin his intern year.  It’s a good time to reflect on St. Paul’s annual commitment to hosting an Intern and what serving on the Vicar Committee has meant to me.
 
I’ve been fortunate to be part of the committee for the past two years – one as a member during Eric Worringer’s year, and one as chairman with Alissa.  The committee supports the Vicar during their time at St. Paul while offering advice, feedback, and a safe, confidential space to share their joys and struggles during our monthly meetings. We also prepare mid-term and final evaluations of the intern for the seminary and synod. 
 
Working with Eric and Alissa has been a wonderful experience. As a relatively new (joined in June 2014) member here, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about St. Paul alongside our Vicars. I’ve been impressed by their enthusiasm and desire to move the church forward while still respecting the many traditions here. In their own way, Alissa and Eric each displayed a level of wisdom that far exceeded their age or career experience. With young pastors like them in the pipeline, the future of the Lutheran church is in good hands.
 
I’ve also come to appreciate the diverse skill set required of a great pastor. Compassion, intellectual curiosity, counseling, biblical scholarship, public speaking, and fundraising are just a few of the important gifts displayed by Ross and the many men and women who lead our churches. 
 
Recruiting should probably be added to that list – Ross is never afraid to ask St. Paul’s membership to give their time and talents to the church! I’m so grateful for all the members who generously volunteer their time to serve St. Paul. It would not be the same vibrant, energetic place without those who fill so many roles on Sunday and throughout the week on various committees.  
 
Once Alex arrives, there are several things we can do as a congregation to support him. I apologize if some of them seem obvious:
 

  • Remember Alex is a newcomer to the Boston area. He’ll be adjusting to a new city, a new home, a new job, and a new group of 500+ church members.
  • Please tell Alex your name (before being asked) each time you meet him for at least the first three months.It will ease any potential anxiety from having to remember so many names.
  • Remember that Alex is a student who is coming to St. Paul to serve and learn.Although he will be performing several pastoral duties, he is not yet a pastor.
  • Allow Alex the freedom to grow, the freedom to try new things, and the freedom to fail.

Looking Back and Moving Ahead

By Helen Schmidt
August 4m 2016


            St. Paul has been a part of my life for almost my entire life. There was a brief period of time right after I was born that my family attended a different church, but I don’t remember any of it so I don’t think it counts. I grew up at St. Paul. I remember the old fellowship hall with the mural of Noah’s Ark on the back wall, I remember singing ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’ in the old kitchen, and I remember holding Pastor Henry’s hand while we prayed during Children’s Time before the sermon, and I remember when the addition was put in and how different everything seemed. I went through Sunday school and Godly Play and confirmation and then helped teach some of those same classes. I’ve helped set up and clean up after so many coffee hours that I don’t even want to think about trying to count them. And now I’m nearing the end of my stint as the parish administrator. I think the one thing I haven’t done here so far is preach a sermon. Needless to say, being a part of St. Paul has had a huge influence on who I have become as a person.
            This is why it was so strange for me when I got to college at Texas A&M. Though I grew up and have been involved with a church my whole life, religious culture in Texas (and especially at A&M, which has been ranked as the most conservative college campus in the nation) is very different than it is in Massachusetts. One of the first girls I met there told me she wanted to be a missionary and go to India to spread the Gospel. I had never met anyone like that before. My roommate was nice enough but we had very different views on life and faith. She believed that unless you proclaimed aloud that Jesus is your Lord and savior, you would go to hell. My conception of the afterlife is much more nuanced. These two young women were not outliers. There were Bible study groups everywhere. One of the most popular weekly events on campus is a non-denominational worship service called Breakaway, held in our sports arena. Every week it is packed. And through all of this is an unspoken pressure to fit in.
            I didn’t attend church weekly my freshman year, and that’s something I hope to change as I head into my sophomore year. Being in such a different religious culture shook me. At times I felt much more religious, and at times I questioned my ties to any sort of church at all. Everyone there seemed so sure of their faith and it was so different from mine (even though we believed in the same core stories and ideas) that I found myself thinking, “If this is what it means to be a Christian, I don’t want to be one.” I was going back and forth between two extremes, neither of which felt right to me. There are a few ELCA churches in College Station and I wish I had looked into them last year. My hope for this year is to find a middle ground at one of those churches- one where people are welcomed as they are. And if I can’t find that place, I’ll make it myself.

            On another note, next week will be my last week here at St. Paul as Parish Admin. I'd like to thank everyone who has made my time here so meaningful and fun! Ross and Alissa keep asking me to drop out of college so I can keep working here, but unfortunately I would like to fulfill my higher education and get a degree, so I must leave.

New England School of Lay Ministry

By Lynn Geraci
July 28, 2016

As a recent graduate of the New England Synod School of Lay Ministry, I was asked to write a reflection on my experience. As I was preparing this, at the last minute I came across a reflection and prayer written by Joyce Rupp, a Christian author and retreat director that really resonated with my heart’s prayer, but of course, she put it much more eloquently. 

Source of my life, Home of my spiritual heritage, pick me up from the path of my fruitless wanderings.  Carry me back to you, the birthplace of loving kindness.

Be tender with my fears.  Draw me out if I tend to pull back.  When I get buried in the darkened corridors of uncertainty, help me emerge from my mud-laden shell of confusion.

Reorient me in the right direction that leads toward you.  Show me time and again how to arrive where I belong.  Encourage me to eagerly seek your presence.

Remind me often that you are my Source and true Home.”

As I read this, it really seemed to express my prayer and my journey through the Lay Ministry program.  In a very life-giving way, it helped pick me up and lead me to a deeper and clearer understanding of the direction I was supposed to be going on in my faith journey.  I found myself feeling that Rupp’s prayer had been mine for a long time.

About two years ago, I felt like that lost turtle, trying to peak my head out to find which direction to go and hoping the path would be shown to me.  Then, I saw the blurb in our Sunday bulletin about the program.  I was struck with the theme of that year being on the way Lutherans interpret the Bible. After some prayer and searching for more information on their website, I talked to Pastor Ross and began that September.  And WOW, what a journey it was.   

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