Faith Lutheran prepares for something new | Worship
The students repeat the alphabet after the teacher: “A, B, C, D, E…”
These students attend the English Language Learners class that meets weekly at Faith Lutheran Church in Everett. For many of the students, Spanish is their first language.
When faced with the decision to sell the building and close the doors the congregation of Faith Lutheran Church felt God had a renewed mission in store for them.
Through the ELL classes, relationships with Spanish-speaking pastors and other connections with Latino peoples and cultures, and use of Spanish in worship, Faith Lutheran felt God had been preparing the congregation for something new.
Faith Lutheran partnered with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America denomination to reach out to the Spanish-speaking members of the community. Eventually, this new faith community will exist parallel to Faith Lutheran Church.
When I first heard about Faith Lutheran’s commitment to its neighbors of a different language and culture in this innovative idea of outreach, I couldn’t wait to join the efforts.
I was born in the United States and was raised in Colombia by Colombian parents. After graduating from high school, my family and I returned to the U.S.
I went on to obtain my college education and seminary studies in Iowa, where I have lived and served a congregation until recently.
In hope of joining God in what God is doing in south Everett, I relocated just a few months ago. As pastor, I am dividing my time between this traditional congregation and the new outreach project.
Through the English classes, food bank and a weekly free community meal, Faith Lutheran is seeking to serve, engage and build caring relationships with people in the community.
While this recent history is no surprise, the congregation at the church feels excited about God’s activity and the possibilities of neighbors of all backgrounds coming together for prayer, meals, support, friendship and community.
Where we believe we are united in Christ, our differences in languages and cultures make us stronger. It’s a signal to the world that all human beings are children of God called to bear with one another and live together in unity.
For the longest time we as “church people” seemed to be concerned only with getting people in the pews.
I’m more focused on getting to know my neighbors. I believe God is at work doing amazing things in people’s lives, and I would like to learn those stories.
In these few months, I have had the opportunity to listen and begin building relationships with Latino members in the community.
I am amazed by their stories of courage, love of family and hard work, as I have learned some of their joys and struggles.
No matter our background, faith tradition or language preference as human beings, we can agree joys and struggles are universal. We can agree that many of us want to trust others and to belong.
This is where a Latino community of faith that shares a similar culture and walks along side each other could be a gift to the south Everett neighborhood.
I can’t wait to see what comes out of this experiment. One thing is certain: When God is in our midst, lives are transformed, and faith is renewed when sisters and brothers in Christ come together.
Arhiana Shek is a mission developer and pastor at Faith Lutheran Church, a Lutheran church serving Latinos of Snohomish County. The church is at 6708 Cady Road in Everett.