In this month's Collaborative Voices we talked to Jodie McKie, the host coordinator at Cross of Peace Lutheran Church in Shakopee about taking part in Families Moving Forward and the housing situation in Scott County.
Could you tell me a little about the history of Cross of Peace?
Cross of Peace was established on June 3, 1990. Pastor Tom Reiner was called and Cross of Peace began worshiping at the Shakopee High School. On January 23, 1994, we dedicated our first building project and moved into our current location at 1506 Wood Duck Trail. When Pastor Tom Reiner retired in 2014, we had an interim pastor for about 2 years to help us go through the call process for a new pastor. We welcomed Pastor Stephanie Espinoza in 2016. When Pastor Stephanie joined Cross of Peace, we decided to join Beacon’s work of sheltering families through Families Moving Forward, opening our doors to welcome families experiencing homelessness.
How did the church get involved with Beacon?
We were approached a couple of times to join Families Moving Forward. The first time we made the decision not to move forward with this mission, because our church was going through a pastoral transition at that time. The second time we were approached to join, we had our new pastor and decided to take a leap of faith and join the effort. We met with the Belle Plaine congregations and decided we were going to open our congregation to Families Moving Forward.
I know the church participates in our Families Moving Forward program. When did that begin? What has the congregation learned from being a host congregation?
We began our mission with Families Moving Forward December 2016. Our first hosting experience was for 10 days with 3 families. We worked with a team from Belle Plaine congregations for this first hosting week. This team shared their room supplies with us. We have since made the commitment to make Families Moving Forward one of our missions and have acquired our own room supplies.
Your Mission Statement reads, “Welcoming ALL people with open arms, Exploring God’s word with open minds, Serving our world with open hearts.” How has the congregation lived this out when it comes to your work with Beacon?
We have continued to participate in Families Moving forward and have completed 5 weeks of hosting families. We have welcomed 13 families into our congregation. Each hosting week brings a new experience, opportunity and learning! Our congregation continues to ensure all individuals are engaged in the experiences. We have encouraged all ages to sign up and help. Our confirmation groups help with activities in the evenings and our congregation families come in and share a meal with our guests. This experience has been a blessing for our congregation! Members are excited about helping and asking about when the next families will be arriving.
What is the homeless and affordable housing situation in Shakopee? Besides Families Moving Forward, has the congregation been involved in housing issues?
There is a lack of affordable housing in Shakopee. We have had a few members attending Beacon Collaborative meetings. As a congregation, we do need to get more involved in helping with the overall Collaborative.
What would you say to another congregation considering joining the Collaborative?
We actually had another congregation visit during our last hosting week! We shared how we got started with Families Moving Forward and what it means to the families and our congregation. We also talked about what has worked for us and the challenges we have experienced. The most important thing about talking to interested congregations is to let them know it does not always run smooth, but they are never alone during the experience.