When Accompaniment Becomes a Calling
"The great thing about this (new) arrangement is that everyone came from neighboring churches. If we need help, I know just where to go..."
This snippet of a parking lot conversation, overheard as I left the Southeast Cluster Meeting last night, highlights the simple fact that as we learn to accompany our brothers and sisters in Iringa we are also learning to lean on the wisdom and experience of our neighbors here in Minnesota. This, to me, is one of the remarkable features of our Bega Kwa Bega companion synod relationship. Accompaniment, you see, need not occur only with our overseas partners; it can also play out in our day-to-day lives and the communities that we call home.
Over the course of the last year we have realigned the BKB Cluster System (the grouping of congregations with active relationships in Iringa) to match the geographically assigned conferences of the Saint Paul Area Synod. We now have six local clusters and a seventh made up of congregations from places further afield. The goal in doing this was to bring neighboring congregations together to share resources and expertise.
Last night we saw this play out as one congregation offered to deliver letters for another, travel delegations shared their tips, and people were exposed to the different ways in which Saint Paul and Iringa congregations share life with one another. While there were many similarities, with seven different congregations represented there were seven different ways of engaging in this relationship that were expressed. Going forward, the hope is that such conversations won't be limited to semi-annual Cluster Meetings, but that people will be inspired and curious enough to reach out and follow-up with their neighbors. In that way, we can all strengthen and support one another as co-participants in God's Mission.
As always, I left that meeting inspired by the good work God is already doing and with gratitude for the faithful people I am privileged to share this journey with.
It is an honor to walk beside you,
The Rev. Peter Harrits
Director of Bega Kwa Bega & Assistant to the Bishop