Monday, February 20, 2017

Getting Started

I moved to Wichita in November, was appointed LEIRN representative in December, and “accidentally” came across the ecumenical powerhouse in Wichita at the Martin Luther King Jr Worship Celebration. The Greater Wichita Ministerial League had planned an incredible two-hour worship service with music that brought the congregation to its feet and a preacher that provoked at least 100 “Amen”s. In the worship program was an invitation to join them so I did. At my first meeting, there were 5-minute speeches from at least 10 organizations who wanted to use the ministerial league’s network to share their information. In addition to education programs and a day of free medical care in the park, there were announcements of grants and scholarships. A woman from Wichita State University told the story of a young man whom the ministerial league had helped get started in school. We were encouraged to get involved in “Beyond Tolerance” dinners and a pulpit exchange program. It was a powerfully positive 90-minute meeting.

For those who don’t know where to start their ecumenical connections, this is so hopeful. Even in places where mainline congregations act as silos, ecumenism is happening. I love our mainline inter-denomination dialogues and partnerships, but I also understand that we don’t need to agree on our baptismal theology or even the ordination of women to break bread together and serve the community side by side. Unity does not require uniformity. I am happy to now be a member of TGWML: “serving the community of Wichita with the love of Jesus Christ.”

Mari Larson, Representative for Central States Synod
LEIRN Vice President

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