Last week the pastors of Immanuel church took 3 days away to do some serious talking about our life in ministry. The group included the 3 pastors from the International Fellowship, the one pastor from the Korean fellowship, and 5 pastors from the Swedish fellowship. Admittedly, we were a little skeptical going in as sometimes these multi-cultural meetings haven't yielded much positive or helpful interaction. This time was remarkably different. For one thing, the Swedish fellowship has a new Senior Pastor and he is open to deep and complex conversation. Additionally, most of us in pastoral leadership have had a deep longing for a better sense of who we are in ministry together under one roof even while our congregations are quite different. The conversation was rich and honest and sometimes a little bit painful. We came to a much better understanding of what it means to be a diverse community, what it means for us all in good ways and difficult ways to pursue greater integration. We affirmed that it's also OK to have our own clear identities as language groups and that healthy integration affirms the right to gather in our own groups. We all left with a greater sense of optimism that Immanuel Church can become a much better integrated community between the language groups while at the same time celebrate the unique mission that we each must pursue based on our target audiences.
The bonus in these days was the beauty that surrounded us at our lovely retreat center. We had 3 days of Indian summer, or Britt Sommar as the Swedes call it, and it was truly as lovely as the some of the finest summer days we enjoyed.
We actually drove our boat up and enjoyed a couple of early morning rides that were breathtakingly beautiful.
One of the afternoons we shuttled everyone to a small island where we relaxed, continued our heartfelt conversation, enjoyed a Swedish "fika" (coffee and a little something) while languishing in the waning but warm and wonderful September sunshine. The evenings were spent around the campfire sharing about what makes us happy, sad, bored, excited and angry. Even though it was initially hard to commit to 3 days away from the office during this very busy season, I came home refreshed by the conversation, renewed by the weather and best of all, confident that God is alive and working in wonderful ways at Immanuel Church.