I have been a pastor for 33 years, and have worked in congregations, in Bishop’s offices, in campus ministry, and with a seminary. I retired last July after 15 years as the Lutheran Campus Pastor at the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque.
Shortly after I arrived in Hungary, I was being introduced to a group of church leaders and I said that most of my ministry had been about “Building Bridges and Opening Doors.” In campus ministry we built bridges between the congregations and the university community. Because of a grant we received to do youth service-learning, we opened doors with the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico. Because I serve as an adjunct faculty member at Vancouver School of Theology in their Native Ministries Program, we built bridges (actually, we built a Hogan) with the Good Shepherd Mission in Fort Defiance, Arizona, and the Episcopal Diocese of Navajoland. Because we worked with undocumented students at UNM, with Camino de Vida Lutheran/Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque, and with Iglesia Luterana Cristo Rey in El Paso, we opened doors for congregations to be in conversation with recent immigrants in New Mexico. Because we worked with LGBTQ students and their friends and families, we opened doors to become a more inclusive church.
The blog title, “Bridges,” is a reference to the ways God calls us to reach out, crossing traditional boundaries, making connections, and transcending differences to welcome one another in the Body of Christ. Budapest is also a city of magnificent bridges crossing the Danube. While I’m here I hope to support Young Adults in Global Mission and strengthen the ties between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary (ELCH) and their partners in the Northeast Iowa Synod ELCA. We are already opening doors in Dabas and reaching out to the whole community through English language groups and help with English language practice in the schools. I’ll write more about that next time.
These words that Paul wrote to the Philippians have encouraged me for many years: “I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:3-6. I look forward to working in partnership with you and building bridges.