A Faithful Journey
The New Branches journey began in the fall of 2017. That’s when ministerial leaders from three Nokomis area congregations – including Living Table United Church of Christ and Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church – had a "what if" conversation. What if we reimagined how to be church? What if we shared the nuts and bolts of a church building and focused our faith and energy on our mission? What if this is how God is calling our faith communities?
By November of that year, congregation members joined the conversation. During 2018, planning teams were formed, meals and worship were shared, and preliminary ideas for sharing space were floated. We learned how much we had in common and imagined how much we could do together.
2019 was a year of forming and reforming. An architect was hired to envision a new shared space and a consultant was hired to help the congregations create a unique building partnership agreement. At the same time, one of the original ‘what if’ pastors retired and one of the original three congregations left the process. Then Spirit of St. Stephen’s Catholic Community, which had been searching for a permanent prayer space, stepped in as the third congregation of the three-church partnership.
As the pandemic turned church life on end in 2020, the partners persisted. Each congregation voted ‘yes’ on final plans that fall – which meant that Living Table would proceed with selling their church building, that Spirit Catholic Community would give notice and prepare to move from their space, and that extensive renovations would happen in the Lake Nokomis Lutheran main-level building space.
Lake Nokomis Lutheran was able to worship in one of the renovated sanctuaries on Christmas Eve 2021. Spirit Catholic Community and Living Table will transition from Zoom to in-person worship in spring 2022. As the New Branches name suggests, the three churches are filled with hope as the collaboration unfolds in our shared, community-focused space. Together, we’ll move from ‘what if’ to ‘what’s next.”
O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we do not know the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us, through Jesus Christ our sibling and companion. Amen.