Partnerships for Advent...And Beyond
Throughout this season of Advent, a number of Missouri District congregations are preparing for Christmas together—forming partnerships that will strengthen ministry for everyone involved.
Three congregations in the Bootheel—Concordia in Sikeston, Faith in Dexter, and Zion in Poplar Bluff—are all using the same sermon series, ending Advent with a joint potluck and service on December 22. “The hope is that all three congregations have a similar focus for Advent so they can come together for the potluck and hymn sing as one congregation,” shares Pastor Matthew Berry of Concordia. “The organists, pianists, and musicians (including youth) from all three congregations will help lead the congregation in song.”
Working together is not a new concept for this group, as Concordia and Faith started the practice of holding VBS together in July 2021. “VBS worked out very well between our two congregations. The kids and volunteers seemed to enjoy having more people to share the experience with,” says Pastor Justin Sponaugle of Faith. He encourages churches to explore partnership opportunities for themselves. “For smaller congregations considering working together, I think it may seem like an inconvenience at first, mainly due to travel and scheduling but well worth it.
A group of congregations in the Kansas City area have also been looking for ways to work together and have come up with a unique opportunity for members. “This Advent season, Messiah—Independence, St Paul’s—Independence, and Ascension—Kansas City will be doing a unique round robin for their Wednesday nights. Instead of rotating pastors, they will be rotating congregations!” says Pastor Mark Martin of St. Paul’s in Independence. He notes that these joint efforts just make sense. “These three make a natural partnership as many family and other associations tying the congregations together exist. The members have been excited to be able to worship, fellowship, and get to know each other.”
The model for working together is biblical. “When St Paul in Ephesians 4 talks unity and one body, he is not only talking about relationships within congregations, but relationships between our LCMS congregations,” notes Pastor Martin. “Hopefully this is the beginning of a partnership that will extend into 2022 and beyond.”
Pictured left: Shared VBS of Concordia and Faith. Pictured right: Rev. Mark Martin installed at St. Paul.