“A Glimse of What Is Possible”
The word is getting around about SpringHouse Ministry Center (that’s the new name), the new building where First Christian is moving to and working with a UCC and a Lutheran congregation. I’ve shared about how First Christian came to join this partnership and now here are some words from Geoffrey Black, the General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. He was in Minnesota recently and toured SpringHouse. This is what he had to say of this new venture:
What I saw was three Minneapolis churches that are about to move into one building and share life and ministry. They call the new building the SpringHouse Ministry Center. These churches are not merging—and that is an exciting element of their story. What they have decided to do is take the largest of their respective buildings and refit it. The building will now serve three congregations, thus reducing their aggregate carbon footprint. The new facility will provide each congregation with an accessible facility where they can live out their distinct identities while sharing in Christian formation, community and mission.
Lyndale United Church of Christ, Salem Lutheran (ELCA) and First Christian Church (DOC) are the churches that have come together to embark on a new life in the edifice that was once the sole home of Salem Lutheran. The building will now house three sanctuaries, classrooms, offices, community space and a full-service kitchen. One interesting feature of this arrangement is that the congregations will rotate their use of the sanctuaries, giving each the opportunity to experience the unique features of each worship space.
This is a good news story, and it may give us a glimpse of what is possible and what the future might look like for many churches. In this instance, the churches coming together have ecumenical ties since the UCC congregation has a full communion relationship with both the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church. While the Lutherans and the Disciples do not have this kind of relationship, I’m sure that this living arrangement will enable these two congregations to discover a way toward oneness that might be a gift to their respective denominations. Of course, the presence of the UCC in the SpringHouse might just be the ingredient that makes it all work.
I’m proud of the step of faith that First Christian has taken. Actually, I’m excited that all three churches have decided to follow where the Spirit leads, which of course will be someplace pretty awesome.