Serving Where You Are Called – Making Big Impacts in a Small Community
September 20, 2021
A few years ago, having completed an escape room together, my godson and I were asked our team’s name. Neither one of us seemed to have any ideas until he looked at the staff person and said, “We’re the Lyons; spelled with a ‘y’.”
In his answer, my godson not only affirmed he knew to which community I am called, but also acknowledged my love for that community. I am privileged to serve two congregations in Lyons, Nebraska: Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church and First Presbyterian Church.
One of the reasons I love this call is that it is indeed a call to the community. Being the pastor of two congregations in the same small town means that whatever happens is likely to impact your members.
And with any small town, one learns who is related to whom. One also learns of the resources within the community, one of which is the Lyons Ministerial Association. Extending resources to those who need help with utilities, rent, or groceries is one thing that we do. We also come together throughout the year to remind people we are one faith community, united in our belief in one God.
All the ministers believe it is important that people in Lyons see that we know one another, we talk to one another, and we like one another. We conduct a Good Friday service downtown where we walk from one business to the next as we read and pray and sing our way through the stations of the cross. Also in the spring, we are blessed by a local school district that includes baccalaureate in its graduation schedule and a school choir that will sing at the worship service.
A Thanksgiving Community Service is the other worship service we share. It is always the Sunday evening before Thanksgiving. Usually it involves a meal, but that has changed in times of COVID. We hope we can demonstrate what it means to be flexible and faithful.
Summertime has us sometimes walking the parade route together on the Fourth of July. My favorite thing that we do, partly because I love all things VBS and partly because it allows me more time with these colleagues whose commitment and creativity I admire, is Community Vacation Bible School. Everyone is welcome to come to First Presbyterian Church those evenings for opening, Bible lesson, crafts, games, mission projects, snacks, videos, and closing.
The Bible lesson is taught by members of Lyons Ministerial Association. One of us takes the lead on a given night and knows he or she can count on the others to be anything from an angel to a king to a raven.
My two congregations have been worshiping together since January of this year, switching buildings on a monthly basis. Most, when asked about it, have said they would rather worship with 30 who they know share one belief than a dozen who claim one denomination. We are two congregations in one community, one faith community, united in our belief in God. We are Lyons, and this is the community I am called to serve.
Pastor Heidi Wallace is currently serving as a full time pastor to Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church and First Presbyterian Church in Lyons, NE.