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June 2013

Mission Means Making Room

One of my favorite Parables of Jesus is the one about the Mustard Seed.  It goes like this: 

With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it?  It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;  yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”   (Mark 4.30-32)

Although we might not equate the kingdom of God exclusively with the church, we can take this illustration and think seriously about how we can make room for everyone who is looking for a safe place to make their nest.  I want you to know about two new ministries that are developing among us. 

The first ministry is called Abiding Ministries and the primary leader for this mission is Chris Rotella, ELCA Diaconal Minister.  Chris’ ministry has been authorized by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod.  At the last PLUM Board meeting, the board received and approved a request that PLUM become the fiscal agent for Abiding Ministries.  So we share in the joy of this ministry.

Chris Rotella reaches out to homeless people and anyone else she may meet on the street.  Here is one description of the ministry recently written by Chris:

“I have accompanied a woman named Faith from the street community for the past 9 months.  Faith has been doing a lot of remembering in recent months and the impact of that journey with her led her into the needs of another woman that she knows as Erin.  Faith’s initiative led her to present Erin and her family’s problems to us.  She shared, with expectation, the love and care that would be necessary in the moment to abide with Erin and her young family.  They were about to be evicted.  This included some financial challenges with rent that then led us into a relationship with Erin’s landlord.  That landlord is now a partner and consultant to our ministry.”

Chris writes: “Abiding Ministries will most likely never be a typical congregation according to the institutional and constitutional experiences of the church.  That is okay and even a good thing.  Abiding is both transient and relational.  We are companions on the way.  We are becoming.  We are becoming together.  We live in and are part of the remembering of the Body of Christ.”

This is a remarkable mission and one we are invited to support.  Watch your church newsletters or bulletins for specific ways you can be supportive.

The second ministry involves a group of Nepalese Christians who have been welcomed by Trinity (Mt. Oliver) to use space for worship on Sunday evenings.  This community is part of the growing number of immigrants who are settling in Pittsburgh.  They have a young pastor who explained that their gathering had grown from 8 people to 35 (too big to fit in the house anymore).  They attended worship with us at Trinity (Mt. Oliver) and have asked if they could attend worship in the future, even though they would have their own service in the evening.

The mustard seed of our Pittsburgh ministry continues to grow and to extend its branches.  We are inviting any and all who are seeking a safe place to make their nest.  Let us rejoice at these signs of the resurrection in our midst.

+Pastor Paul Koch



Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110        412-466-7773