Canon Maria Tjeltveit
Church of the Mediator, Allentown
Paul went to see [Aquila and Priscilla], and,
because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them,
and they worked together—by trade they were tentmakers.
In Acts 18, Paul receives the hospitality of Aquila and Priscilla, and they work together in Corinth. Then they travel with him to Ephesus. There they meet Apollos, an enthusiastic and eloquent leader, who needs a little more instruction about Jesus and the Way, before he sets off on his own mission trip.
The number of evangelists and leaders of the church is expanding. Paul has new people with whom to share hospitality and ministry. We might call these people pastors, coming from the image of a shepherd tending a flock. As we think about them we consider the hospitality of two churches named for the Good Shepherd, who is Jesus.
Good Shepherd, Scranton, began as a mission of St. Luke’s in 1868, and the church was built in 1913. Having gone through some ups and downs, the congregation experienced renewal through extending hospitality. About a decade ago they received money from the New Hope Campaign to renovate their basement to become a clothing closet for homeless people, and provide a sheltering program for them. The congregation has a gift for cooking and began to use their parish hall and kitchen to offer hospitality and good food to the community around them. With diocesan clergy days and dinners, youth events, and Convention frequently hosted there, many of us have benefited from their ministry of hospitality.
Sometimes endings can create new beginnings. Good Shepherd, Milford, began as two churches, in Pike County, near the borders of New York and New Jersey. Good Shepherd was formally organized in 1871 and a church was built in 1877. After a fire, a new church was built in 1915. St. John the Evangelist was a church built in 1887, in nearby Dingman’s Ferry. In the early 1970’s Dingman’s Ferry was designated a National Park. So St. John’s closed and the parishes merged in 1972.
For about 30 years, Good Shepherd has housed a child care center, which expanded to fill most of the church’s available space. The child care center is now moving. This ending of one kind of hospitality is opening up the parish to explore new ways to offer hospitality to the parish and community. On Sunday, they had a Passover Seder for about 70 people, led by a Jewish couple who run a local restaurant. This interfaith event was a gift to the Jewish community in an area where there is no synagogue. The church has also had a St. Patrick’s Day Dinner and a Christmas Tea in the past few months. Other forms of hospitality include a food pantry, which will now be able to move out of the basement. The congregation is welcoming to a diversity of people, including the LGBT community. A new roof and a new sign, with the name shortened to “Church of the Good Shepherd”, reflect the new spirit that is in the parish; a spirit of hospitality and openness to the future.
How do you know Jesus as the Good Shepherd?