Our strengths and ministry approaches often also have their roots in the past. I wrote last time about our challenges having roots in the past, but the rest of the story is just as important. One example of this is Augustana Lutheran Church, in Portland, Oregon. Augustana is a vital urban congregation . This church has a strong focus on multicultural ministry and social justice. The church recently opened a time capsule that the congregation closed up in 1907. It included the statement, “The women have a right to vote in the congregation.” Also included was the September 14, 1907 issue of The Oregonian, the Portland daily newspaper, with an article about the challenges faced by Hindu immigrants from India.
Pastor Mark Knutson says, “Finding the two pieces was good for our congregation as we try to step out in new ways of justice. To hear them say 100 years ago, 14 years before women’s suffrage, this is a congregation where women have the right to vote, was very powerful and offered strength for today. The same with the article about the persecution of Hindu immigrants: to hear Swedish immigrants lifting up an article like this, again a statement from 100 years ago speaks to the need today for true immigration reform.” Augustana’s current ministries are in continuity with the past in ways they didn’t even realize.
What was your church’s focus a hundred years ago, if it’s that old? Or at the founding? What strands do you see in the present that stretch back to the past? How can you use the stories of the past to strengthen your people, and yourself, in the present?