Presbyterians Today

OCT 2018

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P r e s by te r i a n s To d ay OCTOBER she said. But her limitations don't prevent her from seeing the possibilities. While there are a handful of con- gregants who understand when their pastor compares the man helped by the Samaritan in the Gospel lessons to Syrian refugees — "I lost a family last year when I said that," she says — Kot•la's approach to helping her congregation see and embrace the growing diversity around them is to begin by cultivating what she calls the "invisible" community, the ones who don't necessarily come to the Presbyterian church, the interested, the concerned and those tuned in to the changes all around. She reaches out to them and begins to •nd ways to talk to the community at large. Kot•la then •nds opportunities to connect the "invisible" community to her church community — and do so gently. "I know that I must honor the Word and live it with the compas- sion I have received. So instead of taking on ICE or public policy, the church and community have begun a ministry of support to our local farmworkers," Kot•la said, speaking of the Hispanic workers that are there among them but rarely seen. "We offer translation, transportation and tutoring, but mostly we offer our time to build relationships." The program is called "Good Neighbors." So far, Kot•la reports that there has been no resistance to it from those in the church. If anything, unexpected friendships with white Presbyterians and those of darker skin are "permitting church folk to question policy in unexpected ways," she says. Kot•la's advice for rural pastors seeking to address the disconnect from what Sunday morning worship looks like, compared with what everyday life out in the village looks like, is to start by simply loving those in the pew. "I believe transformational lead- ership means honoring where people are long enough to love them and then •nd ways to engage them in their own transformation," she said. COURTESY OF PRINEVILLE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH Prineville Presbyterian Church's peace pole "declares our intention to be people at one with God, one with neighbor, and one with ourselves," said the Rev. Mike Wilson. It's just one of the many ways the Prineville, Oregon, church is reaching out to bring together a changing rural community.

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