Walking Our Faith: Who Goes To Church? A profile of Lord of the Mountains Church (column)
July 20, 2018
I have attended Lord of the Mountains Lutheran church three times. Once for an inter-faith service commemorating the Five Hundred Year Anniversary of the Reformation. The second time was for Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, with the congregation of Synagogue of the Summit. The third time was a regular Sunday service where Pastor Lilianna Stahlberg presided during the service and communion. What I discovered at each of the three very different church services was a spirit-filled church that welcomed people of all faiths.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about the pastor of Lord of the Mountains Church. She took a remarkable path from Romania with her roots in an Orthodox Romanian church. From there, a moving of the Holy Spirit in her life led to involvement in an ecumenical, inter-faith movement, decades of humanitarian work on behalf of women and orphans, and finally ordination and after years of serving in the Denver-area. She then became pastor of Lord of the Mountains Church.
Someone once told me that perhaps only 10 percent of Summit County residents attend church regularly. I found this surprising because each of the churches I have written about over the past three years has been filled with enthusiastic parishioners.
For instance, I am always impressed when I attend my own church, St. Mary's on a Saturday evening at 5p.m. or Sunday morning at 8 a.m., when the priest asks the congregation to raise their hands if they're from out of town, nearly 80 percent are visitors. To me this means that people care enough to make time during their vacations to attend church, even if it means going on a Saturday evening or rising early on Sunday morning.
Does this also mean that locals are staying home? It's confounding. When I experience the enthusiasm that I feel in my own parish, or any of the other churches I've attended, where local congregants are active participants in church life throughout the week, I feel optimistic about the future Summit County's spiritual and religious communities.
Over the coming weeks or months, I'll do occasional articles about churches in our community to find out what they are doing to inspire and involve not only their regular members but to encourage the Christmas and Easter crowd to find a reason to come more often.
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I asked Pastor Liliana to tell me what she would like Summit County to know about Lord of the Mountains Church and this is what she said:
"Lord of the Mountains has as its branding words: Faith, Family, Fellowship. What this means is that we embrace our Christian faith, we worship and love God, and love and follow Jesus, trying to make this world a better place for all God's children.
We worship in the Lutheran tradition, and at the same time we respect and welcome Christians of other denominations to worship and serve with us.
We embrace other people of other faith traditions and believe there are many ways to God. We desire to explore fully our faith in Christ.
We love families, our families and all people's families; we also embrace the larger family of Christ, present around the world. Family is a deeply human way of loving one another. We love the whole human family; we make a priority to share God's love and the teachings and life of Christ with our children. Fellowship is what brings people together to share love, companionship, sorrows, troubles, solutions. It gives us strength to do God's work with our hands. We also fellowship with people of other faith traditions."
Now, if you're wondering whether these are just words from a marketing brochure, from my first-hand experience Lord of the Mountains is living its commitment.
When I attended Lord of the Mountains for the third time, it was my first time to see Pastor Liliana lead a service. It was a service that featured a baptizing of an infant. As the family and friends circled the baptismal fount, it was clear that Pastor Liliana felt great joy sharing this moment with the family. It was not a formality of Christian initiation, but an essential and joyful rite of passage as part of the human family, the church family and the community to which the child was being welcomed.
Lord of the Mountains Church has at different times allowed diverse faiths of Summit County to use Lord of the Mountain space for worship services, including a local synagogue, a Muslim group and a group of Universalists.
When I attended services at Lord of the Mountain, yes, three different services with three different faith traditions, what impressed me was a moving Holy Spirit. I know that sounds woo-woo, but it's my belief that the Holy Spirit is never present where God's teachings of love and tolerance are not present.
According to Pastor Liliana, "Our definition of our church could be summed up in this statement: We invite everyone into the fullness of God's love …. every race, national origin, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, physical or mental ability, sex or station in life."
If you would like your church profiled in the coming months, please contact Suzanne Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org
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