When Accompaniment Becomes a Calling
A small farming community in the flatlands of Northern Illinois was my childhood home. It was a community shaped by an agricultural and industrial economy that was undergoing massive change. It was a community that required most young people to leave and seek entrance into a global economy in other places. It was a community that has remained resilient in the face of increasing poverty and despair. Above all, that small farming community imbued in us a particular way of being in relationship with the people around us. Were you to ask me where I was from, I would reply…here. The Twin Cities are home now. More specifically, the Saint Paul Area Synod is home now. This is the place where we seek to address poverty, this is the place where we help our young enter the economy fairly, this is the place where we seek justice, and this is the place where we build community. We are truly all in this together.
For most of the last fifteen years, I have been blessed to call various parts of the Saint Paul Area Synod home. Throughout this time, I have been gifted with the development of numerous relationships with colleagues and friends that never cease to amaze me with their kindness, creativity, passion, and faithfulness. Together, we have celebrated the humbling and life-giving ministry that has been accomplished in local congregations, in our synod, and through our domestic and global partnerships. Watching the way you all practice faithful discipleship and stewardship in this place has been equal parts educational and inspirational.
As I embark on fulfilling the role of Stewardship Coordinator for our synod, I will rely heavily upon the relationships we have cultivated together. In addition, I wait with joyful expectation for the development of new relationships with the great number of you whom I do not know. There is so much hope in our future together. We have entered into a season as the church in which creativity and daring will increasingly be demanded of us all. My experience calling this synod home and seeing the work you have done together fills me with confidence.
Bishop Lull and I had rather extensive conversations about the nature of my work on your behalf. It is the work of emphasizing grassroots collaboration, expanding our understanding of stewardship, widening the scope of stewardship conversation, and using our abundance to meet the needs of the people around us that excites me the most. I am by no means a stewardship expert. However, I do believe that I can help us accomplish more together. I anticipate your questions and requests as a means to help determine what would be the most important usage of my time on your behalf. Please do not hesitate to call or email. Your input will help determine the direction of my “coordinating.”
In the meantime, I want to thank you all for allowing me to begin this work with and for you. I would appreciate your partnership and your prayers deeply. The Saint Paul Area Synod and Mount Calvary Lutheran Church are home. This is the place where we are called to work together. I look forward to hearing the ways in which you continue to be faithful stewards for the sake of Christ’s work among and through us.
The Rev. Tom Jenkins, Stewardship Coordinator