Beginning in January of 2010, Our Redeemer Lutheran and Asbury United Methodist Churches began exploring what it would mean to enter into a formal arrangement to share pastoral services between our congregations.
After almost a year of conversations, meetings, and visioning, a vote solidified the future for the two Hood River churches. On December 19, the congregations of Asbury and Our Redeemer voted for a Joint Ministry Covenant. The initial agreement is for a three year term, during which time reviews and revisions will be conducted as appropriate.
The two churches remain separate in identity but will share one full-time clergy person and join together in many ministry functions. The Joint Ministry Covenant states that “no changes in the organizational structure and process of the participating congregations, except that in parallel administrative structures, are linked for joint functions.” The Rev. Andrew Wendle assumed the full-time clergy position serving both congregations effective July 1, 2011.
Building upon the ecumenical sharing agreement between the United Methodist Church (UMC) and the ELCA, Our Redeemer and Asbury have created new opportunities for mission and ministry, as together the two churches seek to accomplish far more than they could separately. Each of these congregations has a storied history of involvement and commitment in the Columbia Gorge area.
Our Redeemer, having just celebrated its 50-year anniversary, has long been a place that has supported such local outreach organizations as the FISH food bank, the Sunrise Organization, and AmeriCorps. Asbury, a presence in Hood River for over 125 years, has also strongly supported FISH in addition to its regular commitments to advocate for the “least of these” within their midst, including standing with those of Japanese descent after WWII when such actions were not a popular thing to do. In addition to these activities and ministries, each congregation has been and continues to be a place where God’s light and love can be seen, felt, and heard by members and community alike.
It is with great excitement that we move forward to see how the Spirit will lead us into this new day. We do not know exactly what that will be or how it will look, but together, as Lutherans, Methodists, and hopefully many others, we know that God’s promises will be as real tomorrow as they have been in our past. We invite all to journey with us as we go forward!
Submittted by by Linden Kron WendleShare on Facebook