It’s time to not just talk the talk, but to walk the walk

On March 16, Lutheran Social Service (LSS) of Minnesota bestowed the “Movement of Hope” recognition award upon the Minneapolis Northside founders of a growing peace movement in Minnesota, “Come Together.”

Those recognized were St. Bridget’s Parish Community members Bonnie Steele and Fr. Paul Jarvis, with Fr. Paul accepting an award on behalf of the staff at St. Bridget’s. Bonnie dedicated her award to the many St. Bridget’s parishioners who have faithfully supported the movement with prayer and attendance.

LSS also recognized Pastor Brian Herron of Zion Baptist Church, Minneapolis, and Pastor Paul Slack of New Creation Church, Minneapolis.

The recognition is meant to highlight the common work and partnership of those who share similar values with LSS, a frequent collaborator with Catholic Charities.

Come Together is a peace movement that began at St. Bridget’s, 3811 Emerson N, in September 2016: that was after two children had been killed in the Northside and a shooting had occurred within a block of the parish. In the wider Twin Cities community, Philando Castile had been shot and killed during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights.

Responding to the escalating violence in the Northside community, St. Bridget parishioner Bonnie Steele, as a St. Bridget’s parishioner; Deacon Rich Heineman; Parish Life Administrator; Gerri Hare, Parish Trustee; and Parish Staff – Sr. Gert Brixius, Pastoral Minister; Heather Johnson, Parish Director of Worship; Alex Schindler, Parish Youth Minister; Fr. Paul Jarvis – all gathered to talk about the Northside community’s pain and fear, and possible ways to respond to it.

Out of these conversations, the idea of encounter between those suffering daily violence and those who desire to come alongside those who were suffering emerged. The parish staff reached out to pastors in the Northside, asking if they might be interested in joining together in a time of ecumenical prayer, song and sharing – to open their worshiping communities, welcoming all who might come, especially those suffering violence in their homes and communities.

St. Bridget’s staff and Pastor Paul Slack of New Creation Church came together and decided to call this ecumenical gathering, Come Together, and held their first event this past September 11. The gathering at St. Bridget’s drew people from Northside faith communities and from Twin Cities’ faith communities as far away as St. Paul, Lino Lakes, Edina, Rosemount and Chaska. It was followed a week later by a peace-caroling Peace Walk in a nearby neighborhood, with prayer for every home on the prayer walk, and prayer with anyone who would allow the group to pray with them.

Come Together has gathered for ecumenical prayer, music and reflection each month since September in congregations from North Minneapolis, to Luther Seminary, to the St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood, to south Minneapolis. Each event has its own character, reflecting the hosting congregation’s personality.

Come Together has grown in ways that have far exceeded the expectations of its small beginnings and now includes, in Minneapolis, St. Bridget’s, Zion Baptist, New Creation, Sanctuary Covenant, Church of the Ascension, Lutheran Social Services, Diamond Lake Lutheran Church, Macedonia Baptist Church, St. Peter AME; and in St. Paul, the faculty of Luther Seminary.

Is your community’s leadership possibly interested in hosting an upcoming Come Together? The Come Together steering committee is always looking for more hosting communities – and they need not be a church, nor Christian. Attend an upcoming encounter and the subsequent Peace Walk to find out more.

The next ecumenical peace prayer service is April 9, 4-5:30 p.m., at St. Bridget’s, 3811 Emerson (612-529-7779). The service will feature Taizé sung prayer and meditation. The subsequent Peace Walk will start at the parish at 1:30 p.m., Sunday, April 16.

Article submitted by Fr. Paul Jarvis