JOEL MARTIN – GUEST COLUMNIST
Christ Lutheran Church in Marine on St. Croix has one of the oldest sanctuaries in Minnesota actively used on a weekly basis. The sanctuary has been used for weekly worship services, countless weddings, concerts, lectures and has even been used in major motion pictures. It is one of the historic sites along the St. Croix River Valley. This year Christ Lutheran is celebrating its 142nd anniversary by selling its building and property and using the proceeds to buy five vehicles (think food trucks) which we will use to become a church on wheels.
Each week, at least one of the vehicles will go to the Stillwater Dome to offer worship services for families whose children are in hockey or soccer on Sunday mornings. During the summer months, one or two trucks will go to the Lucy Winton Bell fields. During intermissions, in between games and practices, we will offer short worship services where we will bless the kids and their parents and remind them that God is present and active in their lives, especially here. The trucks will also have a pull-out resource center providing easy-to-understand ideas, texts and literature that parents and grandparents can take with them to encourage and enable the cultivation of faith formation at home.
One truck will be stationed along the St. Croix River throughout the summer, sometimes near William O’Brien State Park, sometimes near the Landing in Marine, sometimes closer to spots near Stillwater. Besides offering short prayer services, this truck will also serve as a spot for those who fish, paddle, hike or picnic to drop off trash and debris picked up in and along the river. At the same time, it will be a place where information is shared about how we are all called to be stewards (caretakers) of the river, the valley, all of the earth.
When not used to transport seniors for physical therapy and doctor’s appointments, another truck will be used as a portable health clinic that will offer basic health care assessments. It will also provide space for classes on wholeness, healthy living and cooking, meditation, exercise and other ways that we can grow in our understanding of what it means to love God not only with our hearts and minds, but also with our bodies. Physical wellness is a big part of the spiritual life, and we hope that this truck will be a daily reminder of the gift of life each of us shares.
One truck will travel throughout the summer months collecting extra produce from people’s gardens, whether it be beans, spinach, tomatoes or zucchini. We will then transport it all to the local food shelves to be shared with families in need. During other times of the year, the truck will deliver meals and groceries to the homebound and also drive through the streets of Minneapolis, St. Paul, even Stillwater, and hand out hot, nutritious meals, clean socks, blankets and hope to the homeless.
Now some might rightfully say this whole article is just an “April Fool’s” joke. Maybe. But then again, we are more and more becoming aware that Christ Lutheran (or fill in the name of your own church) is not meant to be a place to where you simply come. Rather, it is meant to be a place you go from, to create a place, a space, where everyone belongs, no one is excluded and the love of God is made known. Imagining all we can do if we took on the mentality of being a church on wheels just might be the way to start.
Joel Martin is a pastor at Christ Lutheran Church in Marine on St. Croix. If your church would like to participate in The Gazette’s rotating church column for its Faith and Family page, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.