Columbia Gorge Churches Join in Ministry

Columbia Gorge Churches Join in Ministry


After over a year of conversations, meetings and visioning, a vote has solidified the future for two local community churches. On December 19, the respective congregations of Asbury United Methodist and Our Redeemer Lutheran voted to join together in what they are calling a Joint Ministry Covenant. The two churches will remain separate in identity but will essentially share one full time clergy person and join together in many of their ministry functions.

 Asbury UMC has been served since July 2008 by Pastor Rinya Frisbie, a Transitional Interim Ministries Specialist appointed by the Bishop to guide the congregation through a time of intentional transition. In July Frisbie will be moving to the Beaverton United Methodist Chruch and Andy Wendle will be the new appointed pastor. Asbury has “a vision and desire to be in ministry and serve the ommunity and the world,” said Frisbie, but the church was facing the challenge of decreased numbers and the resulting financial stresses.

Our Redeemer Lutheran was facing a similar situation. Pastor Andrew Wendle, who has been serving the congregation since 2004, realized a while ago that “sustainability on our own was not going to be an option much longer. We needed to look for ways to grow or partner to maintain our identity as an ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) church in the Gorge,” explained Wendle.

Eventually the two pastors and their congregations recognized that “both churches had a similar vision of being 'the church' through expanded service and ministry in the community,” said Frisbie. “And both churches were about the same in size and strength. We began to wonder if there was a way these two churches could cooperate in some new and exciting ways that would allow them to move forward in ministry and relieve some of the stresses brought on by size,” Frisbie concluded.

Several intentional meetings took place with representatives from both congregations. Together they brainstormed and visioned what a joint ministry would look like. "In our current climate of striving to make partnerships and working together, along with dealing in limited resources, the work generated by the joint task force of ORLC and AUMC is a win-win proposal,” said Rick Denis, ORLC member and Joint ministry committee member. “It has been a pleasure working with the task force. Finding so many common ground issues made the move a positive step in continuing ministry in the Hood River area for both congregations," Denis added.

After two “town hall” meetings with their entire respective congregations, a formal vote was taken on how to proceed. Both votes were overwhelmingly positive. The Joint Ministry Covenant states that “no changes in the organizational structure and process of the participating congregations, except that in parallel administrative structures, are linked for joint functions.” Pastor Wendle will assume the full-time clergy position serving both congregations effective July 1, 2011. The initial agreement will be for a three year term during which time reviews and revisions of the agreement will be conducted as appropriate.

“We are excited about the possibilities that lay ahead of us. Partnering not only helps us to be more responsible with the financial resources we have but will empower us to better utilize the tremendous energy and talents found within both congregations as well,” explains Wendle. “Both congregations did an amazing job working the process and honestly discussing whether this vision could work not just for their own churches but for our effectiveness in being a joint ministry in the Gorge community.”

comments powered by Disqus
Boldly Making Disciples of Jesus Christ - Vitalizing the Church - Transforming the World