Life has been so busy that it is hard to remember that we are still in the Easter season. The Feast of the Resurrection was just a few days ago and yet it seems longer. I appreciate this altar display at the All Faiths Chapel in Grafton. Everyday it reminds me again of our life in Christ. It also reminds me of the continued debate that is taking place in our midst and will intensify as the two Districts, Minnesota North and North Dakota, carry on the resolutions decided at their conventions; that they would partner together to build 3 Project 24 Rescue Centers; one for Witness, one for Mercy and one for ‘Life Together’. The debate as you have read on these pages from time to time is the old one – is it the churches job to proclaim the Gospel or to do acts of mercy? The idea that is ‘both’ seems to elude many people, especially Pastors.
What we take sometimes as a ‘given’ in our church is not always as evident to others as we think it might be. There are even disagreements as to whom we should preach the Gospel. This display brought back an old memory that I might have suppressed but I remember it now.
I was not at Grafton and Drayton very long when the Chaplain at the State Developmental Center (at that time called the State School for the Mentally Retarded) came and dropped a large box on my desk and said that I was now in charge of the “Forward In Remembrance” capital campaign for our circuit and also that I needed to be the vacancy chaplain at the center. I am not sure which one terrified me more. I received a lot of ‘grief’ for both. We don’t like fund raising in the church much either. At that time I was in trouble with some of the brother Pastors because I participated in this unscriptural project and how dare we actually have a capital campaign in the church.
My first Sunday preaching at the All Faith’s Chapel was an experience that I will never forget. Those of you who know Pastor Dean Bell over in Fosston should ask him about his experience there when he filled in for me. He will tell you in his inimitable style what it can be like. Also if anyone knows what happened to Rev. Lindsey Watkins, he can share some stories. It is an amazing type of ministry, but to my point.
I requested the District Pastors conference be held at the chapel and that there be some interaction with the Pastors and the ‘clients’. The North Dakota District to their great credit made a ‘churchly’ decision back in 1952 to minister to the folks at this institution and I felt that the Pastors should see where some of their mission money went. Discussions afterwards were enlightening and depressing. Several Pastors told me face to face to their credit (that was way before blogs), that preaching to these people was a “waste of time”. Now understand that these same Pastors would argue vociferously for infant baptism because, as the catechism says, “they are included in the words ‘all nations’, they too can believe, and they too need forgiveness”. It is interesting that when one puts theological blinders or personal prejudice glasses on, we can even dismiss the Great Commission and the example of Jesus ministry to the “whole person, body and soul”. There are a lot of theological blinders on when it comes to helping children overseas, but sometimes I wonder if the personal prejudice is really the driver over the attitudes that we see.