The following is written by Walt Rice of Trinity Lutheran:
Living on this part of the Plateau is wonderful for a variety of reason. We are surrounded by natural beauty which can’t be rivaled by many other locales. The towns of Enumclaw and Buckley are just the right size for raising a family or relaxing in one’s senior years. The numerous choices of quality restaurants and intriguing small businesses are unusual in municipalities of similar population.
Even though I’ve only been a resident for a little over three years, I feel I’m qualified to make such observations because my 36-plus years of ministry have taken me to congregations in Missouri, Indiana, Oregon, Idaho and two other locations in Washington.
However, the one aspect of Plateau life which has most amazed me is something many people would never notice: Enumclaw and Buckley have the most amazing ministerium in which I’ve been fortunate enough to participate. A ministerium is a group of clergy from various denominations who come together for fellowship and to address local issues. What I’ve seen in other communities are groups prone to bickering and to drawing lines in the sand between the various churches. Often times the evangelicals can’t get along with the mainliners who are suspicious of the independents and nondenominationals. Theology and practice become fault lines which divide Christians from Christians, thus killing the majority of cooperative endeavors before they can ever take flight.
Enumclaw and Buckley are different. The clergy and participating church leaders all recognize some differences exist between us. There are some aspects of our faith expressions and theologies which are not necessarily in synch. Our churches do not all worship in the same way.
When it comes to some hot political issues we could probably find reasons to fight if we so desired. But we have come to the realization we can have our differences yet still be part of the one Body of Christ, dedicated to living out our calling as disciples of Jesus and to doing the Lord’s work.
There have been occasions, some formal and some more informal, when we have even discussed the potential areas of disagreement. No one is necessarily converted to another point of view, but we listen honestly and openly, allowing that each person and expression of faith can be heard. We do this all in the confidence we still are centered in the saving grace of Jesus Christ and in his call to service, and that is the force which binds us.
You may have seen some of the results of such cooperation. The most impressive is undoubtedly the Plateau Outreach Ministry, born out of this common calling. It has now grown to be one of the most active helping agencies on the Plateau, bring relief and hope to countless people. There is also the National Day of Prayer when we come together to raise our voices in supplication and thanksgiving to the God who invites our prayer and who listens to our pleas. We even worship together, sponsoring the annual community Thanksgiving Eve service where mainliners, evangelicals, nondenominationals and Christians of all stripes join in prayer, praise and song.
There are many wonderful aspects to life on this Plateau; this ministerium is one. You probably won’t see it referenced by the local Chambers of Commerce in any of their publications and that’s all right. But it is amazing to know that Christians can come together as one in order to do mission and mercy in a community. It is truly a is rare cooperative expression and for one who has seen contentious fighting in other cities, it seems like a foretaste of the glory that is to come.