Pastors and their congregation prepare for new ministry focus

The confirmation class at Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church got together and decided they wanted to make a peace pole. An adult mentor in the church helped them design and construct it. It was installed on Mother’s Day. They hope eventually they can landscape the corner where it stands and create a space for reflection. BY ELAINE KLAASSEN

Back in the old days (when I was growing up) if you wanted to go to church you had to be sure you weren’t struggling with mental illness, addiction, divorce, family squabbles, financial crises, etc., or at least you had to make sure nobody found out about it, so you could put your best face forward. Then the “let it all hang out” ’60s happened and gradually things changed. By 2015, there is a definite sense among Christian institutions that church should be a place of healing.  To that end, the congregation of Minnehaha Communion Lutheran and their pastors, Dan and Sally Ankerfelt, are preparing to become a “trauma-informed congregation.” Pastor Dan says that apart from specific identifiable suffering like mental illness or addiction, everyone has their pain. “It is universally understood that to be human is to experience hurt and loss.”
Two years ago the MCL congregation applied for a National Clergy Renewal Program grant and they were awarded the necessary financial support for their pastors to spend “extended time away from their ministerial duties and responsibilities” in order to refresh and refuel themselves.
Congregational involvement is an important part of the sabbatical. During this time, the congregation will meet in small groups to discuss the book “Healing the Wounds of Trauma: How the Church Can Help.” And there are volunteers who have been trained in how to shepherd the congregation in their pastors’ absence.
From June through August the Ankerfelt family (the children are 18 and 15) will spend a time of rest and renewal. They will travel to the Philippines, the birth country of one of Pastors Ankerfelt’s children, where they will do service projects and sightseeing. After that they will spend time in  the North Country of Minnesota. For one week Pastor Dan is scheduled to meet with a trauma-informed Methodist church in Memphis, Tenn. While there he will also learn what he can about  the blues, hoping to implement more blues in MCL’s worship. In the last month,when the kids go back to school, the pastors will do some writing and research and develop concrete plans for MCL’s transition to a trauma-informed congregation.

One Comment:

  1. Sally Ankerfelt

    Thanks for a great article on our new initiative. We will keep you posted on our progress.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *