Collaboration is one of LCM’s newly adopted values. Truth be told, it is not new to us. It has been a part of our culture for years. What’s new is the explicit listing of it in our updated identity statement which reads, “We work alongside groups and individuals on campus and beyond, sharing common goals and resources for the benefit of the community.” I know, it’s not the most poetic or inspirational sentence. You could easily dismiss it as yet one more bland organizational value among many, especially if all it does is sit in a document on a desk gathering dust.
What gives this value punch is not the way it is worded, but the way it is lived. This value comes to life as we collaborate with our partner congregations (First Presbyterian Church of Bozeman, Bozeman United Methodist Church, Christ the King Lutheran Church, Hope Lutheran Church), with our regional denominational bodies (Montana Synod, Yellowstone Presbytery, Mountain Sky Conference), with local service and ministry groups (Fork & Spoon, Family Promise, Mobile Soup Kitchen, Community Taize Services), with international organizations (CEDEPCA in Guatemala), with campus groups (Office of Student Engagement, Queer Straight Alliance), and at the heart of it all, with the Spirit of God, the Spirit who brings us together and animates our partnerships, bearing fruit in and through our common call to love one another.
The most recent collaboration with MSU’s Queer Straight Alliance or QSA, came about through the surprising yet predictable work of the Spirit. Surprising because the Spirit rarely moves in a straight line, and predictable because the Spirit never fails to show up. After repeated efforts to connect with multiple local LGBTQIA+ groups to partner with on our “Love For All” fundraiser and bouncing around from one lead to another, I stumbled upon an 11th hour opportunity to eat lunch with the Queer Straight Faculty Alliance and the QSA student group. A tip from one of our board members led to a brown bag lunch which led to a series of emails which led to a coffee with one of the students which ultimately led to the beginning of a new and exciting collaboration.
Thanks to the generosity of those who attended our fall fundraiser with Bishop Brenda Bos, QSA will receive $1500 from LCM in support of their efforts to cultivate a loving and supportive space in Bozeman for those in the LGBTQIA+ community. It is our hope that this is just the start of a long and mutually beneficial relationship, one in which we learn from one another, grow in love and understanding, and embody the love of Christ, a love that is continually calling us out of our comfortable community silos. Every time you pray for us, volunteer your time, share our posts, and share your resources, you embody this type of collaboration. The students and I are deeply grateful for your support and we look forward to where the surprising yet predictable Spirit of God leads us next.
Yours in Christ,
JP Carlson, Campus Pastor