On this Sunday afternoon, September 29, St. James will be welcoming a second Spanish-speaking congregation to share space in our building for worship, faith formation, and fellowship. At their last meeting, the St. James Council voted unanimously to enter into an Acuerdo (agreement) with the Minister Pentecostal Quebrantando Los Yugos (MPQLY) that allows them free use of our sanctuary on Sunday afternoon and other designated rooms during the week. It is a move that embodies our congregational vision to build and deepen loving relationships with our neighbors.
Five years ago, we opened our doors to a hispanic Seventh Day Adventist congregation. They use both sanctuary and other rooms on Saturdays. Whereas we don’t charge rent, they have been generous in helping to take care of and support our ministry facility. I am grateful for the relationships that have formed. When we were in conversations with a second group, one of the major concerns that folks had was to make sure that it was okay with the SDA congregation. They were enthusiastic about the effort.
Let me explain how this new relationship came to being. It was the unexpected work of the Spirit. Around noon on a Monday in the middle of the summer, three women came to St. James. The youngest was the spokesperson for the group. She explained that her pastors came from Puerto Rico after a hurricane destroyed their church. They were worshiping in the community recreation room in a local housing development. Their group of about twenty-five was growing and needing more space. Could they rent space from St. James?
My answer was NO. We didn’t rent space but we would be willing to consider sharing it without charge. Thus began a two month process of conversations and collaboration. When I shared the new mission possibility to the Executive Mission Team, they encouraged further exploration. We formed a Mission Team consisting of Lee Larson, Ainsley Fuerst, Maria Edlund, and Jen Moore. I am thankful for their hard work, especially the ability of Ainsley and Maria to translate during meetings.
Through prayer-centered conversations we worked with Pastors Blanca and Juan and the young woman who visited during the summer to craft an Acuerdo. In Spanish, Acuerdo, means ‘agreement’ and has a relational component. The written document is bilingual thanks to the efforts of our team members Ainsley and Maria. It spells out the nature of our relationship with MPQLY and specifically how we will share the space. As mentioned, it was approved by the St. James Council at their last meeting. An electronic copy will be available online once it is signed by both churches.
Please join me in saying a prayer of thanksgiving for the way that the Spirit brought about this expansion of St. James mission out into our community. We will be adding MPQLY to the list of our mission partners that we pray for each week. I continue to be amazed how God works through us to share the hospitality of the gospel.
I look forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday.
In Christ’s Light,