Churches join together for worship, community
To the Editor:
In a world of increasing separation, polarity and disagreement, the people at Intercession Episcopal and Redeemer Lutheran Church, both of Stevens Point, have a better way. Faced with budget challenges within their individual congregations, they have chosen to join together to more effectively fulfill their fundamental purpose of outreach, ministry and worship.
But, this alliance did not come about without long deliberation, collaboration, and, yes, even some compromise.
The congregation of Intercession Episcopal will move into Redeemer’s building at 900 Brilowski Road in late August. After a year of conversations, joint education and fellowship programs, some shared worship services, both congregations are feeling a renewed excitement and energy for what they can do together to serve God and God’s people.
Though there are no similar collaborations in Wisconsin, the denominations of the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America participate in an agreement known as Full Communion. Through this agreement, the denominations may worship together, exchange clergy and share evangelism and outreach efforts.
The two local congregations joined together this last year for their Wednesday night education and fellowship programs. Joint Sunday services were also held once a month for the last several months for the purpose of getting to know each other’s practices and members better. Through these joint endeavors the congregations found there were more similarities than differences.
Many parts of the worship service, as well as shared similar goals of reaching out to serve others were apparent. Budget struggles and low worship attendance were concerns for both congregations. Sharing more than just the building seemed more and more where the Holy Spirit was leading the congregations.
Redeemer had been served by an interim pastor since the departure of its full-time pastor, the Rev. Anne Edison-Albright, in the summer of 2016. When the congregation voted this spring to call a part-time pastor, they asked Intercession for permission to share its current pastor, the Rev. Jane Johnson. Permission was granted.
Redeemer Lutheran Church and Intercession Episcopal leadership worked with their respective church organizations to establish an agreement for mutual ministry, though both congregations will maintain their status as separate legal entities.
Joint worship services will begin on Sunday, Aug. 27, at 9:30 a.m. The Sept. 3 service will also be at 9:30 a.m. The fall schedule will begin Sunday, Sept. 10, with services at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., and 5 p.m.
As an indication of the joint desire to become a shared community, serving God and God’s people, the congregations together will be called The Beloved Community: Intercession Episcopal and Redeemer Lutheran.
Further information on these services as well as the calendars of activities may be found on the following website: www.belovedcommunitysp.org
All are welcome and encouraged to join with us in worship and mission.
For the church communications team,