In 2018, movie star Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurrassic World, Parks and Rec) received the Generation Award at the MTV Movie & TV Awards. Pratt, in his acceptance speech, spoke to the mostly younger audience (he was 38 at the time) as an elder with wisdom to impart. He was both silly and deeply profound. Clips of the speech quickly went viral.

Rule number one was: “Breathe. If you don’t, you’ll suffocate.” Pratt went on to talk about prayer, the
reality of God’s love, and how to give medicine to a dog. But it was his advice about community and how we treat one another that garnered the most attention: “Don’t be a [jerk]. If you’re strong, be a protector. If you’re smart, be a humble influencer. Strength and intelligence can be weapons. Don’t wield them against the weak. That makes you a bully. Be bigger than that.”

In a Gen Z kind of way, Pratt expressed what has been a core tenet of the Christians faith for centuries – that we are made for community. Our particular gifts should be used for the good of our neighbors. And we are better together than we are as individuals. God made us this way.

This month at Trinity, we are celebrating two new members to our faith community – Pastor Beverly Butler and Dani Vogel. Pastor Butler joins our staff as our new pastoral lead for care, bereavement and visitation ministries. Dani comes as our new Youth Director with particular focus on high school ministry and support of middle school and elementary programming. Both Beverly and Dani bring great gifts for building community. We are thrilled to have them.

As we welcome these new staff, we also need to recognize the gifts of our current staff and members who have bolstered our community and helped us care for one another. I am especially grateful for Becky Elsbernd, who expanded her hours last fall to help support our Care Ministries – and Pastor Daniel Hanson, who has shepherded our High School Youth as they get ready for the ELCA Youth Gathering. Scores of lay leaders have also stepped up, proving we are most certainly better together than we are as individuals.

Finally, we want to celebrate our community that is the Northeastern Iowa Synod. Ten staff and lay people attended the C3 Event in Waverly a few weeks ago. This gathering of synod church leaders reminded all of us of the power of Christian community. (You can check out their reflections on page 3.)

We are better together. God made us this way. What a gift. 
– Pastor Dan Gerrietts