Immigrants know what it means to be a stranger in a new land. Many Chinese immigrants coming into America began their new life in Monterey Park, a suburb of Los Angeles. As they arrived, scores of them received critical support from a small but active group of Chinese Christians living in the area. By the 1960s, the time was ripe to develop a mission responsive to the needs of these new arrivals. In 1968, Pastor Wilson Wu and about 30 other Mandarin-speaking members of the community organized as Faith Lutheran Church, the ELCA's first established Asian congregation. "The ministry here identified itself through the work of the community," says Pastor Wu. "Even before our church was organized, new immigrants were already being helped. But we wanted to have a place that everyone would call home and a place where people would come when they needed help."
From Stories To Tell: Multicultural Ministry in Action. ELCA, 1991.
This year has put us all in the position of having to know what we are without a building as our central meeting place. I'm struck by the fact that there have been Christians who have been church in exactly this way long before any of us were displaced by a pandemic. I'm grateful for the pandemic in this regard. I'm grateful that there was a force that was powerful enough to shake us out of our complacency and strip away our reservations.
I've been delighted to be church with you all in 2020. If I had to choose a place to experience a dumpster fire of a year, I couldn't have imagined a better one. With you, I have found people who would not be made submissive by fear, but who stepped out in faith to risk themselves for the sake of serving the most vulnerable in our county. In the past year, we have grown in our generosity. Our financial stewardship is more faithful than ever. Our ministry of service to the houseless people of our city is greater. Our capacity to care for one another has multiplied. We are doing all the things God has called us to do and while it might not be easy, we have seen life abundant made manifest!
I'm very excited for our Congregational Meeting this weekend. Not only will I get to see all your faces on a Sunday morning in worship, but we will also get to dream and scheme about the year ahead. I've been impressed and blessed by what our council has prepared for us. There has been deep thoughtfulness in their discernment and they have taken great care to illicit your involvement. I have no doubt even if we find ourselves in a foreign place as 2021 rolls in, that we will find a faithful way to build a home for God's Spirit among us.
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Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.