This morning I had the opportunity to share an opening prayer at a faith based prayer breakfast held by The Food Bank of Northwest Indiana. It was a nice event with speakers about Community Partnerships, Government Partnerships, and Faith Based Partnerships. The Food Bank is doing a great job of connecting and networking with persons from a variety of sectors as they seek to provide food for hungry persons in Lake and Porter Counties.
At the breakfast this morning our church was named one of three Faith Based Partners for 2007 because of our work in 2006. I was honored to accept a certificate on behalf of the church and am proud of the work that we have been doing. Receiving this recognition in front of other churches took me back to a meeting I had last night…
Last evening I met with a few folks from the Salvation Army Church here in Munster to talk about a youth ministry they have called The Fire-Escape. They essentially host a venue for all ages shows. The bands aren’t explicity Christian and their hope is simply to provide a safe and a fun place for youth who might not otherwise ever set foot inside a church – a very cool idea if you ask me. As they gear up for 2007 they invited myself and some others from the community to dream and talk about what kinds of new and creative things they might be able to do.
As we sat in that meeting last night we realized that, in the span of less than a mile, there are six churches that line the east side of Columbia Ave – A Ukrainian Orthodox Church, The Salvation Army, Trinity Reformed, St. Paul’s Episcopal, Ridge UMC, and Westminster Presbyterian. All of these churches are essentially in the same neighborhood, we all share a relatively common list of concerns about our community and our members, and we do little to nothing in cooperation with one another. It’s sad really.
I am sure that we’re not unique. I am sure that there are other churches and religious institutions throughout the country that are physical neighbors but never take the time and energy to be neighborly with one another, but why is this? What is it about the way that some institutions are wired that makes us more concerned about our internal affairs than the external possibilities? How will the possibilities for a more hopeful future ever be realized if we don’t find ways to look beyond our ownselves to the outside community? Loaded questions, I know.