by Sherie Heine, Assistant to the Bishop 9/11/2015
“11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…” Ephesians 4:11-13 (NRSV)
Oh, how I enjoy visiting churches! Large, small, rural, city, old construction or newly built. Entering a building I’ve not visited before – well, it’s like opening a present! The anticipation of what it might be I find inside. Each with its own character… brilliant stained glass, highly polished pews, baptismal fonts filled with water, scarred communion rails… God’s house.
As I wander the sanctuary, I quite often spend time wondering about the hands that built this particular house of God. Were they those of farmers and ranchers who built between haying, seeding, calving, and harvesting? Perhaps those who constructed this building were skilled craftsman hired to complete the build? Either way or something in between, those builders shared their particular skills and gifts.
If only these churches could talk! The stories they could tell! The joys and challenges… of the builders and of the congregation… stories of a people of faith in the midst of building a building, discerning God’s purpose for them, and building a ministry… Together – as a people of God.
Over the last four years, it has been a joy to learn of and come to know a ministry of the ELCA. It is a blessing to witness and share in the ministry of this dedicated group of builders. These men and women come from across our church. They come from all walks of life. Leaving their homes, their communities, and their own congregations, these servants travel – most in motor homes – to builds. Whether it is a new church construction, a retreat center, a building addition to house a child development center, or an outdoor ministry lodge, they work side-by-side with people like you and me. Daily, as the foundation is poured, the walls are framed with nails driven by carpenters of all ages, and the rafters are raised a beautiful thing is happening…
On each job site, work stops daily for a time of Dwelling in the Word. Fellowship is shared. Relationships are deepened. Community is strengthened. As a building is built, so too, is the body of Christ. Through intentional tending to the Word, giving thanks for the giftedness of one another, and celebrating the ministry of this particular build and building, these Mission Builders are the hands, feet, face, and voice of Christ. In the midst of the pounding and sawing, the conversation and laughter, the calm and the chaos, the Spirit is at work. People are changed. Congregations are changed. Communities are changed.
Peace Lutheran, Burlington. Christ Lutheran, Minot. Camp of the Cross, Garrison. Bread of Life, Minot. Hope Lutheran, Surrey. Upper Missouri Ministries, Epping… Just a few of the ministries in our synod blessed by the ministry of the Mission Builders.
Mission Builders… focusing on Christ… building structures… building ministry… building up the body of Christ… And for each, and all of them, I give thanks. And with them, together, we build; we REJOICE!