Written by Jennifer Willprecht Walczak, CPY Program Director
Hello, Christ the King members!
My name is Jennifer Willprecht Walczak, and I am not only a CtK member, but also on the staff for Community Partners with Youth (CPY).
For those of you who don’t know about CPY, we are a 501(c)3 after school and summer program benefitting at-risk youth in New Brighton and surrounding areas. Since 1997, we have been providing care for families in need, using the lower level, gym, kitchen, and outdoor spaces of Christ the King. Earlier this year, we were busy planning for our jam-packed summer program when COVID-19 hit, and our plans came to a screeching halt. It was a hectic spring, as our plans changed weekly with new recommendations from the CDC, MN Dept of Education, MN Dept of Health, and Gov. Walz. In late May, we made the devastating decision to cancel our summer programs for 2020. This put us in a tough spot knowing that many families rely on us for summer meals, childcare, and to help provide youth with experiences to answer the all important question: what did you do this summer?
We quickly sprang into action, planning for activity kits we could send home weekly with families. Since June 15th, we have been delivering our kits to families in New Brighton, Mounds View and Arden Hills. Our kits include an arts and crafts project, a STEM activity, a cooking project, and an activity for the whole family to enjoy together. We were thrilled to be connecting with our families, but quickly realized a key component was missing: food. We approached the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf, and they were excited to partner, as we serve many of the same families. They added on meal boxes to our kits, so we can ensure not only are families getting activities to keep their kids busy, but meals and snacks to keep their bellies full! To further engage our families, we have been uploading video instructions weekly, that allow our youth to connect with our staff, and see a sample of their activities.
Our original goal was to send out 100 bags per week. After our first week, we realized 100 wouldn’t be enough! We have since started delivering 125 per week, with 150 not being out of the question. Each week, more families are asking to be added to our list, waiting for us outside the office of their apartment complexes, mobile home communities, or calling our office saying they heard about our kits and want to participate as well!
We truly wouldn’t be able to offer our “CPY @ Home” programming without the support of our generous and compassionate community members LIKE YOU!
If you are looking for ways to support the community, CPY is hosting our Annual Golf Ball Drop on Sunday, August 2nd at 3:30pm at Brightwood Hills Golf Course. We are currently selling raffle tickets for the event. They are either $10 for 1, $25 for 3, or $40 for 5 tickets. Tickets can be purchased by calling the office at 651.633.6464 or via email to email@example.com. For more information about the Golf Ball Drop, our summer plans, or to see the activities, visit www.cpymn.org.
Thank you for your continued support of CPY and youth in our community!
Written by Pepe Demarest, Pastoral Intern
After one year of being welcomed to Christ the King as a pastoral intern, there may be some wondering, "what crazy program has interns work in their settings for two years?" Well, I am part of the inaugural cohort of MDivX at Luther Seminary. Luther describes the program as a “holy experiment to help the church reimagine theological education in a time of tremendous change.” This time of tremendous change was envisioned well before the changes that have happened due to Covid-19. The idea was “to rethink how we cultivate Christian community in a secular age.” The plan was to bring applicants who were spiritually and theologically innovative to reimagine what the church could be. My cohort consists of 28 students of various backgrounds from around the country.
At the beginning of our program, about a third of us met on Luther Seminary’s St. Paul campus for most of our classes, while the rest joined on Zoom. Now, we all only meet virtually. There are students Zooming in from Florida, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, California, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and outstate Minnesota. There are some who have just graduated from college, others who had been working in government and social services, youth ministry and business. Some of us are empty-nesters, others just starting families, but all of us knew that this experiment was going to be intense- not only for us, but also for our loved ones. You see the “X” in MDivX stands for expedited (some would say exhausting).
Traditional Masters of Divinity programs last four years. The first three years focus mostly on academics and the fourth year begins the contextual learning or internship for the seminarian. But last June, when I began my internship here, I was also taking Christian Public Leadership, The Gospel of Mark, Systematic Theology, and The Old Testament. I am lucky to call Christ the King my home where I can apply some of the theological theories to a real-world community.
The MDivX program has been funded for three years, and my cohort has already seen major changes. Usually each term starts with one or two weeks of intensives where all the dispersed learners get together for long days of classes at Luther. This was one of the great things about this program as we were able to share not only what each of our contexts was doing, but more importantly how God was using each of our individual gifts. Since the pandemic shut down in-person classes, we have not been able to meet and I miss my cohort so much! The second cohort started this June, and they have never gotten a chance to bond like we were able to. Please keep them in your prayers as the support of my cohort has always been one of the best things about this program. Luther is now taking applications for the final year of this program, hopefully by then they will be able to meet in person.
As I look forward to my final year here at CtK, I am excited to work with the pastoral team as we try to rethink what pastoral care will look like if in-person meeting is dangerous for our community. I am also very grateful for any feedback I receive about my sermons. Especially now with service online, it is hard to judge how they are received. Finally, I love to brag about the mentoring I get from Pastors Peter and John, but also the awe I feel when I think of how open to the Spirit this community is. So, it may not be that this program is crazy, but as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:13: “If we are crazy, it’s for God’s sake. If we are rational, it’s for your sake.”
Written by Pastor Peter Hanson, Lead Pastor
When my sabbatical ended six weeks ago, I returned to a ministry context that was very different than the one I had left. The church building is closed, worship and faith formation take place online, and our members are physically distant and largely remaining in their homes. Right away, I started to notice the remarkable ways the congregation and staff at CtK have responded to this unprecedented reality of COVID-19.
I have noticed flexibility. The CtK ministry staff adapted almost immediately to online worship, and has continued to develop and hone their skills as we enter into our fifth month leading these ever-evolving virtual services. I’ve noticed the flexibility it takes to produce such worship as we move from doing so from our individual homes to leading from the CtK sanctuary, each new step bringing both challenges and rewards. I’ve noticed flexibility on the part of faith formation leaders, who have offered BAM, Confirmation, VBS, and Adult Ed on Zoom, via podcasts, or with Google Hangouts. I’ve marveled at the flexibility of groups to restructure their meetings, such as Elders in Action holding distanced meetings on the church lawn, or the Prayer Shawl ministry gathering around a CtK picnic table. Such flexibility is not a given, and yet I am thankful that so many among us have readily embraced it.
I have noticed generosity. Giving by members has kept pace with previous years, even when we are not gathering in person. Folks keep mailing in their offerings, and more and more are choosing to be generous using electronic means. Given the economic stress brought on by this global pandemic, the stay-at-home orders, and the continued limitations on “everyday life,” we might have expected to be experiencing a financial crunch right now. We are not. Our current financial position is strong, thanks in no small part to the generous support by CtK’s members and friends. Of course, we’ll need to keep a close eye on this, for there is still potential for future budget constraints the longer the pandemic continues. Such generosity is a witness to the commitment folks at CtK share for our shared life and ministry, and I am grateful.
I have noticed an abundance of care. Care for one another and for the community that surrounds us. Care shown by wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, even suspending in-person worship, fellowship, and learning for the time being. Care expressed through phone calls made to fellow CtK-ers we are missing, through emails and cards sent out to one another, through folks held in prayer in our distanced meetings and virtual gatherings. Such care is the mark of us being and becoming Christ’s beloved community, one marked by our deep and abiding concern for one another.
Friends, I appreciate your continued flexibility, I am grateful for your ongoing generosity, and I am touched by the care and concern you show to me, to one another, and to this corner of the world God has placed us in. Life and ministry these days is different—it can be harder, more tiring, maybe a bit less obvious in its fruitfulness. But God is with us. God is blessing us, encouraging us, walking with us, sustaining us. God is nurturing growth among us, even if we can’t always see it. We remain connected in Christ and through Christ the King.
Thanks be to God!
Written by Bob Benke, CtK Member
I was asked to write this blog for today, the day after Independence Day, because of my experience in the military as well as in city government. My military experience was in a Reserve status, and my only active duty was for training sessions. My contribution does not come close to that of many other CtK members and millions of other Veterans that have served, who in many cases were injured or even lost their lives. I can’t help but question, what would have been the future for my wife, Judy and I if I had been called? We likely wouldn’t have had the same life as we now know it. We are blessed to live in a good house, with plenty to eat, and all of our friends at CtK to worship with. Thank you Lord!
When my Combat Engineering Unit was on High Alert for possible activation during the worst part of the Vietnam War, Judy and I had a taste of the stress on a family caused by callup separation. Judy has also experienced this anxiety when her father, an Army Chaplain, was sent to Germany and Korea during World War ll. Today, the day after Independency Day, we should honor all of those who have preserved our independence as a free country, with liberty for all. Think of all of the pilgrims, the many immigrants who risked life and limb for all of those years helping to build the country we have today.
Looking forward, perhaps we should think about “independence” in another way. We often talk about our independence as a country first, and the advantages that we enjoy. But, how do we keep it growing? What about the other word, dependency? Are we not dependent on others, also? Are we not responsible for supporting others, to work against the bigotry and bias that infects us today? These problems are as deadly to civility as is the current coronavirus plague that has changed our world forever. There likely won’t be a return to ‘the normal’. What will be our ‘new normal’? What can we do to be part of the solution and not the problem? Let’s think and pray together to find the answers.
Written by Priscilla Berg, CtK Member
This time of social distancing in response to a pandemic has made us long for the time when we can gather again as a Christian community. At the same time, it is made clear that church is not a building. We, as God’s people, live our Christian lives and witness beyond the walls of a physical place.
Christ the King has a long history of supporting the needs of our community. The weekly Herald newsletter highlights many of those needs. The Social Ministry Team encourages you to read those highlights carefully and consider how you might be involved. Here are two that serve our immediate neighborhood:
Ralph Reeder Food Shelf has had a 30% increase in demand. The needs will only increase now that children don’t have access to school meals. Unfortunately our SUNNY program, which in the past has tried to fill some of that gap, had to be cancelled this summer due to COVID-19 concerns. If you would like to donate to Ralph Reeder you can mail a check to: 2544 Mounds View Blvd, Mounds View, MN. 55112 or do so online at: https://www.moundsviewschools.org/Page/173
The Community Support Center (CSC) works to prevent homelessness by preventing evictions and working long-term with participants to move toward stability. The CSC has continued to work with participants via Zoom or conference phone calls. The CSC expects a surge of demand when the emergency moratorium on evictions ends. Thanks to those of you who donated to the online “Un-luncheon” in lieu of the CSC annual fundraiser. Donations can be made to the Community Support Center, 1600 Silver Lake Road Northwest, New Brighton, MN. 55112.
I have long had a quotation from Martin Luther King above my desk. It’s from his “Mountaintop” speech on April 3, 1968, one day before his assassination. It reads:
It’s all right to talk about “long white robes over yonder”, in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here! It’s all right to talk about “streets flowing with milk and honey”, but God has commanded us to be concerned about slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day. It’s all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God’s preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennesee (the new New Brighton). This is what we must do.
As I have watched a resurgence of activism for racial justice following the killing of George Floyd and the recent Supreme Court decisions providing protections for LGBTQ individuals, and at least temporary protection for DACA “dreamers”, I have renewed hope that we as individual Christians and as a Christian community can look for those places where God moves us to make a difference.