Each Sunday before 8:30 worship, you might notice ECLCer Eric Peterson sitting in the chair just inside the 54th street doors…waiting. Waiting for a new friend, a first time visitor, to join him. After seeing many new faces join Eric over the months, I asked Eric why he does what so many are nervous to do: invite people to church.
Eric responded: “I started attending ECLC in the fall of 2017 after no meaningful involvement with a congregation since Lutheran Campus Ministry over 25 years ago. The Internet told me ECLC was a place of inclusion, justice, action and faith. My experience with the people, the preaching and the sense of belonging I now feel as a member confirmed it. And so, in gratitude I’ve shared it with others by inviting friends and acquaintances to join me in worship. But that’s not the whole story. Burned by past experiences, like me, many of those I’ve invited are justifiably skeptical of anything Christian. It’s no wonder, given proclamations of Christian rhetoric are too often paired with indifference to suffering or used to fuel prejudice and fear. It’s hard to find the love amongst all that hypocrisy. I’m not much of an evangelist, but for some reason I am called to lift up ECLC as an example of Christianity that looks a little more like Christ. And with that intent, I invite people to join us and to explore a faith in something that’s authentic in both word and deed.”
This August, will you join Eric in inviting someone in your life to ECLC? Who in your life might appreciate an inclusive Word from God in community? Each Sunday in August, we’ll have special stories shared by members in worship that reflect who God is and who we hope ECLC to be in the world. And, for fun, ECLC will donate $5 for every visitor household to the ECLC mission partner of THEIR choice in August!
As I reflected on Eric’s words, I realized I’m constantly recommending a delicious meal from a restaurant, a good book, or new children’s playground to anyone who will listen. Why not also mention the community that feeds my soul, stretches my understanding of justice, and cultivates true community for me? It’s stretched my own faith to ask myself why…and I look forward to us asking “why” together as we invite newcomers into this good news for us all.
-Lauren Morse-Wendt, Minister of Word and Service