In Pursuit of Excellence Awards
One of my personal goals for 2013 is to keep my eyes open for examples of excellence in Christian ministry. I hope, by doing so, to discover ideas that might be helpful for us at Saint Peter, and to be inspired, myself, to offer my very best as a pastor and as a leader.
At the beginning of this new year, I'd also like to offer my words of gratitude and admiration for those who have moved our ministries at Saint Peter a step or two closer to excellence. I had the opportunity to honor three of these at our Annual Congregation Meeting on February 10, 2013: our support of Selian Lutheran Hospital in Arusha, Tanzania, led by Carol Mayer (left); Saint Peter Stitchers, co-led by Carmen Faaiu (center); and Sharing Our Suppers, led by Annie Harnett (right).
The latter portion of Saint Peter's Mission Statement declares that we are "Sent into God's World, to be a Reflection of Christ's Love." Sometimes God only sends us a short distance in order to live out this aspect of our mission.
One of the rich ways that members of Saint Peter reflect the love of Christ, is by sharing meals with families who find themselves in a time of difficulty. This was a new ministry at Saint Peter in 2003. More recently, Annie Harnett has led this effort. She has helped stretch this group in a way that has strengthened its ministry and expanded its reach. Leaning on her gifts as a "foodie" Annie has led workshops, helping food providers to create meals that are carefully packaged, thoughtfully labelled, and stored in a freezer at church so that we can respond immediately in a time of need. Fresh, hot meals are also provided, when her team is informed about someone who could benefit from it.
For helping us to live out the second half of our Mission Statement; for providing support and encouragement to families in challenging times; and for helping us to deepen our connections with and commitment to one another, on behalf of everyone involved in this ministry we present Annie Harnett with a 2013 In Pursuit of Excellence Award.
The Saint Peter Stitchers is a great example of permission giving. We believe that every ministry needs to have permission to die when there is nobody who has the passion and calling to continue it. We also believe that every participant needs to have permission to initiate a ministry that he or she believes can help us pursue our mission. This is a ministry that was started in the 1990s, but when people couldn’t be found with a passion to continue it, we allowed it to die.
In 2007, Carmen Faaiu and Jenny Von Stroh made the decision to revitalize it. They formed a group, first called “Pray and Crochet,” and recruited some friends to work with them. As the group grew, participants began to bring other gifts with them, so they adjusted, renamed themselves “The Saint Peter Stitchers” and began to make a variety of items to share with people during significant times in their lives.
Now they meet regularly to make prayer shawls, baptismal blankets, cancer caps for chemotherapy patients, Christmas stockings for clients at Covenant Cupboard, and hand-tied fleece blankets for catechists. They also made two patchwork blankets for the Habitat for Humanity auction in 2013.
For providing a great example of how permission giving can work to strengthen our congregation; for helping us to live out the second half of our Mission Statement; and for helping many people become involved in a ministry that allows them to make the connection between their faith and their passions, on behalf of everyone involved in this ministry we present Carmen Faaiu with a 2013 In Pursuit of Excellence Award.
Through Selian Lutheran Hospital, and its sister-hospital, the Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is transforming thousands of lives every year, and making a bold witness to the world of Christ’s love. It is a rich blessing for our congregation to be one of their many supporters.
Nine of us visited the hospital in 2009, and one of my hopes was that this visit would lead to a core group of people who had a passion for Selian Hospital, and who would work to raise support for the ministries that take place there. Carol Mayer was in that group, and she has worked tirelessly over the past four years to promote this ministry, and to raise support for it.
Carol has helped us to promote Selian in our publications and on Sunday mornings at worship. She has encouraged us to reach out to the community, inviting others (especially people in the running community) to join us in supporting Selian. She has organized a group to conduct an annual 5K Walk/Run fund raiser. Through the 5K, and other member donations, Carol has helped inspired us to contribute more than $100,000 to Selian Lutheran Hospital over the years.
For creating a new opportunity for many of us to be connected with global mission; for helping us to live out the second half of our Mission Statement; and for helping many people become involved in a ministry that allows them to be connected to life-giving ministries half-way around the world, on behalf of everyone involved in this ministry we present Carol Mayer with a 2013 In Pursuit of Excellence Award.