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Serious JuJu baptizes infant, young skateboarding boy


Pastoral leader of ‘1001’ ministry called the ‘Mother Teresa of Kalispell’

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

A 15-day-old girl is baptized in the Flathead River by the Rev. Miriam Mauritzen of Serious JuJu, a ministry for the skateboarding community in Glacier Presbytery. (Photo by Bob Paulus)

LOUISVILLE — Until last weekend, the Rev. Sean Chow, the Western region and training associate for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s 1001 new worshiping community movement, had never seen someone so little being baptized.

Serious JuJu, a community ministry for skateboarders and those who love them in Glacier Presbytery, baptized a 15-day-old baby girl and a young skateboarding boy.

The mother who brought her young daughter to be baptized wanted the child to have a better life than she had experienced. Living in local shelter, she was just two blocks away from the warehouse that’s home to Serious JuJu.

“So, we all became friends with her,” says JuJu volunteer Tom Esch.

The Rev. Miriam Mauritzen, pastor with the New Worshiping Community Serious JuJu, prepares to baptize an infant being held by her mother, a friend to the ministry. (Photo by Bob Paulus)

 And when it came time for JuJu’s annual baptism in the Flathead River, the woman brought her newborn to be laid in the cold, fast-moving waters. She spoke about how her late grandmother had been the root of faith in her family, and about how she now needed to be the root now, to pass that legacy on to the next generation.

A young skateboarder is baptized in the Flathead River. (Photo by Bob Paulus)

During the baptismal service, JuJu’s pastor, the Rev. Miriam Mauritzen, talked about the special connection between humanity and water — and how that connection reminds us of how God can cleanse us.

“It was so powerful,” Chow said.  “I’ve never felt such a strong desire from a mother wanting her baby to be baptized.”

The Rev. Sean Chow breaks communion bread for family and friends gathered for Serious JuJu’s annual baptismal service. (Photo by Tom Esch)

 Chow presided over communion at the baptismal service and also participated in an installation service for Mauritzen, who was installed as JuJu’s full-time pastor last weekend. Previously she had served as a part-time associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Kalispell and as a part-time community pastor at Serious JuJu.

When the church received the gift of a house from the family of an organist who had played for years at First, the church gave it to JuJu.

“This gift made it possible for us to hire Miriam full-time and dissolve her pastoral relationship at the church,” said Esch, who is also an elder at First Presbyterian Church.

Throughout the installation service, Esch reminded the skateboarders that they now have a full-time advocate, minister and friend.

It was clear how much that relationship meant to the JuJu community by how they participated in the service. Just as pastors from the presbytery and the community did, young people made covenant vows to support Mauritzen.

During the installation service for the Rev. Miriam Mauritzen, youth and representatives from Glacier Presbytery and the community lay hands on her. (Photo by Sean Chow)

And when it came time to pray, youth laid hands on her too.

“Knowing where these kids come from and what they’ve gone through, that was incredible,” said Chow.

“Miriam is the Mother Teresa of Kalispell,” added Esch. “She touches the untouchable.”

Watch this video to see how  Presbyterian Mission Agency supports Serious JuJu through Mission Program Grants to help save the lives of young people living in Northwestern Montana.  These grants, available through  Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries, support new worshiping communities and mid councils’ work to transform existing congregations.

In 2012, the 220th General Assembly declared a commitment to a churchwide movement that results in the creation of 1001 worshiping communities by 2022.  At a grassroots level, nearly 500 diverse new worshiping communities have formed across the nation.

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