Pastoral leader of ‘1001’ ministry called the ‘Mother Teresa of Kalispell’
December 4, 2019
Until recently, 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.
The mother who brought her young daughter to be baptized wanted the child to have a better life than she had experienced. Living in a 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 at vimeo.com/271680273 to see how the 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.
Paul Seebeck, Mission Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: Serious JuJu, a community ministry for skateboarders
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray:
We thank you, O God, that nothing can separate us from your great love. We thank you for knitting us together not on the basis of bricks and mortar but through the blood, sweat and tears of Jesus Christ. Keep us faithful and let us not grow weary in doing good. In Jesus’ name. Amen.