One of the blessings for which I’m especially thankful is the richness and variety of the faith community in our area.
As a working pastor, I don’t often have the opportunity to worship with other congregations but I treasure those times when they come. I have learned so much from my colleagues, whether they are from my own Baptist tradition or others across the wide spectrum of Christian belief.
In the past month, I have been blessed to participate in a joint service with First Baptist, Mountlake Terrace, led by their pastor, Rev. Dennis Plourde, and to be a worshipper at a service at Trinity Lutheran Church, where I was deeply moved by the music, liturgy and original poetry of the Rev. Paul Sundberg. My wife and I also found inspiration in an art installation based on the Stations of the Cross. The paintings, sculptures and spoken drama were provided by the congregants of the Church of the Beloved and their pastor Ryan Marsh and hosted by their neighbors, Edmonds Church of God.
During my time as pastor here at Good Shepherd Baptist, I’ve also enjoyed collaborations with other clergy and their flocks. Not long ago, the Rev. Barry Keating and I engaged in a “pulpit swap” with me preaching at Maplewood Presbyterian Church while he came to my church.
Our two congregations have also joined together with a group from St. Thomas More Parish to sit under the insightful tutelage of that congregation’s pastoral associate, Kathleen Kichline. This spirit of sharing has not been confined to Christian groups, either, as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Center in Lynnwood has both sent teachers to Good Shepherd and invited me to be a part of their speakers series. I will long remember the warm hospitality I received from those followers of Islam.
The diversity of our local faith community has another aspect besides denominations and creeds. As our area has grown beyond “Seattle Diversity” (“We have Swedes AND Norwegians”), we have welcomed neighbors of different languages and traditions. At Good Shepherd Baptist, we have a history of sharing our building with immigrant churches.
We are not alone in this practice and under the roofs of “Anglo” congregations, Korean and Chinese and Ukrainian and Hispanic churches have grown and flourished. We are delighted right now to be the home of the Lynnwood Hispanic Seventh Day Adventist Church under the leadership of Pastor Gregorio Toruño. Not long ago, Edmonds welcomed an Ethiopian Orthodox congregation to the building that had formerly housed Edmonds Christian Church.
My heart is blessed by the panoply of faith in South Snohomish County. I have no room to list the dozens of churches, synagogues and temples where I have friends who have enriched my life. Whatever your faith tradition or philosophical bent, it is almost certain that there is a community here for you. My prayer today is that everyone reading this has or will find the fellowship that will bless them and that we may grow even more in our love and respect for one another.
The Rev. M. Christopher Boyer is pastor of Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Lynnwood.