“Moravians are a quiet denomination,” Pastor Amy Gohdes-Luhman said, describing her faith tradition.
Pastor Amy leads Waconia Moravian Church in Carver County, a congregation that could be described as a quiet congregation. “As for social justice, historically we have been quiet. We live a simple prayerful life,” Pastor Amy said.
However, these days the denomination and this local congregation have found their voice for justice, especially when it comes to housing, homelessness and racism.
Waconia Moravian, which has been a presence in Waconia since its founding over a century ago, partners with Trinity Lutheran in Waconia to host families through Beacon’s Families Moving Forward program. Barb Brooks, a member and host coordinator at Waconia Moravian, believes hosting families is a way for volunteers to see homelessness upfront. “You feel like you’re making a difference and showing God’s love,” Barb said. Both Barb and Pastor Amy agree one of the things they like about Beacon is that it focuses on both charity and justice. “There is a need for mercy and there is a need for justice,” Barb said.
Barb recalled the January Congregation Convening where a number of the congregation’s members took part, even though Minnesota went through some of its coldest temperatures in decades. “I was delighted how many made it despite the terrible weather,” Barb said fondly. She was also happy to hear Governor Tim Walz speak at the event and proclaim that the state budget is a moral document. “This is something you would hear in a church, but never in government,” Barb observed.
Pastor Amy thinks being part of Beacon allows a small congregation like Waconia Moravian to get involved in major issues. “To see that we can be involved is a bonus for one little church,” she said, adding that it helps that the congregation can look to Beacon as a resource, rather than having to figure every step out alone. Waconia Moravian is now taking on racial equity as it connects to housing. In January 2018, the church council passed a resolution stating their commitment to racial justice. Pledging to promote racial justice through education, advocacy and self-reflection, Waconia Moravian also committed itself to addressing structural racism through intentional efforts. The congregation created a Race Leadership Council in order to establish Waconia Moravian’s voice in addressing systemic racism.
Barb added that the congregation must care for all of our human family no matter who they are. “We must take care of our brothers and sisters,” she noted. “I’m really excited about melding the issue of race and housing.” To be a voice can mean disturbing the peace, bringing forward issues people have not faced. “We are a church that seeks to be leaven,” Pastor Amy said, referring to how yeast disrupts bread dough in order to make it rise.
Pastor Amy observes members at Waconia Moravian realize they have a voice. She stresses that now that the congregation has a voice it must be used for the cause of justice. “There is a Christian imperative to use it,” she says. “This is a congregation that plans to use its voice – they don’t want to be quiet any longer.”