By Rev. Peter Reuss
Synod Mission Developer
It’s time for some Sesame Street! Feel free to sing along!
Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhood? In your neighborhood? Say, who are the people in your neighborhood? The people that you meet each day.
From my early years, I learned to notice people in my neighborhood, since (as the song told me) a grocer was a person in my neighborhood, as was a teacher, a doctor, a pilot, a nurse, and a plumber. I simply had to open my eyes to see the diversity around me.
Today my ‘neighborhood’ contains people of diverse national backgrounds: Scandinavians, Germans, Mexicans, Colombians, South Sudanese, Somalis, Hmong, and Chinese. These are people that I meet when I’m walking down the street, at the grocery store, at the mall, at Mayo Clinic, or on the highway.
I meet them, but do I notice or get to know them? Do I feel uncomfortable around them and keep my distance?
Over the past few years I have been a part of several conversations about Latino ministry in our synod. Right now our congregations do not reflect the large Latino population in our midst. We don’t know our neighbors!
Rev. Louisa Cabello-Hansel (a Chilean ELCA pastor serving St. Paul Lutheran Church, Minneapolis) met with the synod’s New Ministries Table and helped us see that it is not about simply finding a Spanish-speaking pastor to come and lead a Spanish service for ‘those’ people. The question is much more foundational that that. How do we notice people and take the time to build relationships with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Any conversation of ministry begins with these relationships. Once it is no longer ‘us’ and ‘them,’ then the potential for exciting ministry can begin!
What people do you meet each day? How can you begin to build a relationship with a child of God who may look different from you?