BY DEREK BROTEN – GUEST COLUMNIST
This coming Sunday marks the biggest celebration for the Christian church as it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. On this Sunday churches will be more full and people will sing a little louder, sharing the most important event in their lives and the hope it brings.
It was two years ago when our church experienced its own resurrection. With a declining membership and financial struggles, the members of Risen Christ were faced with the possibility of closing the doors. But with a bold move in leadership, they approached Woodbury Lutheran to ask if it would be interested in teaming up in ministry. After several leadership meetings and much prayer, our two congregations decided to be one church with two campuses.
We renamed the Stillwater campus Oak Hill, and 70 members from the Woodbury Lutheran Valley Creek campus made the move to this new campus. In the past two years we have seen what resurrection looks like with a resurgence of new families, new joy and new life. However we didn’t want to keep this joy to ourselves, and wanted to get involved in serving our community.
A year ago a group of our leaders wanted to live out our faith in the community, and after interviewing more than 20 different service organizations, we felt a strong call to get involved in our local food shelf at Valley Outreach.
We were impressed with the strong support Valley Outreach had from local congregations and volunteers who were making a real difference. I have the great privilege of volunteering on Monday mornings and seeing firsthand the difference they are making in the lives of those in need of a little hope. I enjoy working with different churches that send volunteers daily on rotating basis. It’s amazing how many volunteers are needed each week to make a place like Valley Outreach function.
We just finished the Minnesota FoodShare March campaign with great generosity from our community. Together, our local churches raised nearly $23,000 and collected more than 7,000 pounds of food for the March campaign. At Oak Hill we encourage people to be generous in bringing hope, because many of us have been blessed with great resources and our faith calls us to share those with those in need. We encourage people to bring food each week and fill our food box to help those in need experience their own resurrection in their personal situations.
I have been so blessed by my volunteering at Valley Outreach and seeing the joy a client has with full cart of food after shopping for half an hour. It helps to bring hope and a taste of resurrection into their personal situations. Our campus has experienced that same hope and taste of resurrection as we are experiencing new life.
As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus this Easter, may we not only celebrate the past but live in a way to bring a taste of resurrection into the lives of those needing a little hope.
Derek Broten is the campus pastor at the Oak Hill Campus of Woodbury Lutheran Church on Highway 36.