Ways we are answering Jesus’ Call
By Joan Holms
Conference Lay Leader Joan Holms shares her experiences visiting various churches in the PNW who are both thriving and struggling while answering Jesus’ call to feed His sheep.
Over the past 10 months, I have visited many churches in the Conference and I always enjoy hearing from members about their church. Quite frequently I hear stories of decline. I hear…
- “We are a small congregation.”
- “We are an aging congregation.”
Next, I might be told what the church used to look like:
- “There were once many more people in worship.”
- “The youth group was active.”
- “The Sunday School was thriving.”
Only after sharing stories about the past, folks will share the stories of today’s church and more often than not, I hear stories about congregations utilizing their resources to feed the hungry, house the homeless, and care for the vulnerable in society. Not only are they transforming their communities, they, too, are being transformed.
As I write this, we are approaching the 3rd Sunday of Easter. The lectionary gospel reading from John tells the story of the disciples encountering Jesus while fishing on the sea of Tiberias. At first, they don’t recognize Jesus. Once they do, and have eaten together, Jesus asks Simon Peter if he loves him. Three times the questions is asked and answered. “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” And three times Jesus tells the disciple what it is he is to do; “Feed my lambs,” “Tend my sheep,” “Feed my sheep.”
Many of our laity recognize Jesus in the faces of those they encounter and they understand that Jesus calls each of us to “feed his sheep”. As a result, wonderful and amazing things are happening. Many congregations have heard this call and have responded. And because they responded…
- Homeless families have a warm, dry place to sleep at the end of the day at Sand Point Community UMC in Seattle.
- ESL and computer classes are available to those who are new to the community at La Palabra Viviente in the city of Everett, Wash.
- Members of the community have a hot meal awaiting them every Saturday afternoon at Moses Lake UMC.
- Homeless women can shower, do laundry, receive a hot meal and receive help in finding permanent housing at Renton First UMC.
These stories only scratch the surface of the myriad ways that our congregations around the Conference are answering Jesus’ call. I can’t wait to hear the many untold stories as I visit churches in the months and years ahead. If you have a story of the ways in which your faith community is answering Jesus‘ call to “feed my sheep” you are invited to share them with us on Facebook. Look for the Pacific Northwest Laity Page – it is open to all laity. Your story may be the one that sparks the imagination of another to find a new way to respond to this call. I hope you will share.
The Journey continues…
Holms is a member of Queen Anne UMC (Seattle, Wash.)
In Our Midst (D4810)