The sign outside of Mount Olive says, “Visitors Expected!” We mean this. We expect YOU, whether you are a new resident to Rochester, or you’ve been here for years, or you are just visiting. We have a completely accessible facility for physically-challenged folks. We are open and welcoming to people of all creeds, beliefs, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. We believe that God has called us to this ministry of hospitality and we welcome guests every weekend. Consider yourself invited.
We are also an unapologetically Lutheran community of faith. This means that our theology is centered in the life and death of Jesus Christ. This means that we are part of a long line of historic churches who celebrate infant baptism and weekly Holy Communion. This means that the Word of God is the norm and basis for our life together. We are also a part of one particular group of Lutherans – the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and through this group we are networked with thousands of other congregations, mission sites, social service agencies, and educational institutions that live out the faith of Jesus Christ in similar ways.
We would love to have you join us for worship on a weekend. Our communion table is open to all as God draws you. Please come and introduce yourself, stay for coffee and fellowship afterwards, and get to know us better. We believe Christ calls each person, of every age and situation, to some kind of ministry. We also believe that our lives are enriched when we do ministry together. YOU are welcome to explore YOUR calling in this community of God’s people.
As a lifelong Lutheran, one of my favorite ideas from the Reformation period is the concept that we are always reforming (or always being reformed) as the People of God. Recently on social media, this has been a trending discussion (check out #DecolonizeLutheranism). Many church leaders have been wrestling with what it means to be Lutheran in our current time and place. After all, as much as the Scandinavian traditions of the Upper Midwest have been long connected with the Lutheran branch of Christianity, there is a lot more to our faith than lefse and hotdishes! In an effort to broaden the scope of what it means to be Lutheran, one of the more helpful suggestions has been to intentionally open ourselves to new possibilities, and make room to do things differently as the Church going forward. Our broad diversity as of the People of God is unified in Christ more than anything.
Recently, I had the chance to be interviewed on a podcast that explores what this movement is beginning to look like, in practical terms, around the country. Three pastors hosted our chat: Kyle in Fort Worth, Texas; Lorne in Cincinnati, Ohio; and Alex in Minot, North Dakota. They were curious about how we as the people of Mount Olive are molding our Confirmation curriculum to be intergenerational, experiential, and, most importantly, a more meaningful experience than many of us had in our own Confirmation classes. It was a privilege to share about our Wednesday evening Metamorphosis gatherings, and all that they hold. As it turns out, Metamorphosis and other gatherings like it are carving out some important new space amidst the con-temporary Church. It was inspiring to not only share with these faith leaders what we are learning here in Rochester, but also to listen to how they are breaking new ground in their own congregations, too.
If you’d like to listen in on our conversation, look for Episode #15 at tohellwiththehotdish.com.