Two O Nine? What kind of church name is that? It’s not a “normal” church name for sure, but then we’re not a “normal” sort of church. It’s our street address, 209 Eastern Avenue, and when our congregations began to worship together in this location answering the phone became so complicated that some way of talking about the whole needed to be found. The Church at 209 doesn’t leave either church out but it also allows us to talk about what we’re doing together and not run out of breath in the process!
Some folks wanted us to come up with a new, permanent, “churchy” name right away, but we need to spend a little more time in this in-between time. We need time to honor the wonderful gifts brought by each of our congregations and we need some more time listening to what God is calling us into together.
Another question that is often asked is, “Will I have to become Lutheran?” or “Will I need to become an Episcopalian?” When my Swedish mom was growing up, she wasn’t supposed to date someone from the Norwegian, Finnish or German Lutheran churches in town… and let’s not even mention non-Lutheran congregations! GASP! Denominationalism was serious business not too long ago, so when we start working together across denominations some get nervous. The good news is that years ago, Episcopalians and Lutherans sat down and agreed to be in “Full Communion” which means they can share clergy, members and they agree on all the important things.
So, if you come in as a Lutheran you can stay a Lutheran and if you want to be an Episcopalian you can do that too. We’re actually less worried about labels beyond the label of Beloved Child of God that everyone has! In that way Episcopalians and Lutherans are more like flavors of ice cream and The Church at 209 has just discovered the great Divine gift of one scoop each, of two different flavors piled on one cone! For us at The Church at 209, now that we’ve discovered two scoops, who would want to go back to just one? – Pastor Erik