By: Rev. Connie Winter-Eulberg, Pastor at King of Glory Lutheran Church, Boise, ID

Connections and collaboration can make many small actions become something big that is a change agent for a community.

I have spent all my 35 years of ministry connecting with people of other faiths and faith traditions. When I moved to the Boise area in 2021 I wasn’t sure that I would have the opportunity to continue this work. Then Pastor Kevin Starcher contacted me soon after I moved here so that we could meet in a local park.

From this meeting on I knew that I had found a thoughtful, compassionate colleague who felt strongly about making connections with other people. Then, Kevin contacted me again to join the Myrtle Collaboration which became the Multifaith Action Project (MAP). With MAP I am able to connect with people from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Presbyterians, other Lutherans and Baptists.

We spent one year on connecting with each other and learning about what we value. We got to hear about each other’s families and our faith.

We also listened to our neighbors, parishioners, friends and people who came to our churches with pain and physical and emotional needs. Our listening to people in this area helped us understand what resources that were missing for those people who are marginalized.

We heard about the lack of housing that is affordable, food insecurity, access to quality healthcare, and the need for jobs that pay a living wage.

When MAP gathered to talk about what was needed in the Boise area to take care of the people here, we quickly came up with the major issues that we had heard. We focused on hunger, homelessness and racism. We decided to partner with St. Paul Baptist Church, Family Life Center who was doing great work before the pandemic. With our partnership MAP has been able to give funding to the great programs at the Family Life Center to equip and supply the needs of the people who come to their trainings, and who benefit from the resources there.

My congregation has been energized by our participation with MAP. The projects that we have done together like Feed the Hungry have brought new life into the lives of my parishioners. They had never seen anything like the gathering of 500 people putting together 100,800 packets of food in one day. This was a goal that I wasn’t sure we would reach, but we did and all of that food was needed in the Boise area. The excitement of the volunteers brought joy to everyone that was volunteering that day. People were happy to meet others from a different church and to learn about each other and their faith communities.

When Covenant Presbyterian, St. Paul Baptist and King of Glory Lutheran joined together to have combined worship for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday 2023 we learned, we celebrated and we made new friends.

King of Glory made dinner for the 90 people who came to the Thursday Holy Week service. People had such a great time talking over dinner and participants got contact information from others to keep in touch and share ideas. Two of the churches supplied liturgical dancers who lifted up the service to higher levels as they brought meaning to different parts of the worship.

St. Paul’s Baptist hosted the Good Friday service with a combined choir. The singers from my church had a spiritual experience to sing under the direction of Reverend Sharon Hall. She got them singing at the top of their lungs with the Holy Spirit carrying them. They sang like they had never sung before. This certainly changed the way our church choir sings now.

The questions that MAP was asking ourselves got my church to ask those same questions. When we discussed what our neighborhood needed, we decided that the three most important things were: water, food and housing. The congregation already had a large community garden whose gardeners were immigrants from Africa. The church had sold some land to the water company for a well. In 2023, my congregation partnered again with the water company to sell them more land for an additional well that will give water to 1,200 homes around our church. We decided to keep the community garden and partner with a local gardening program who organize our garden. The congregation decided to partner with LEAP, a local not-for-profit who helps build affordable housing. This spring LEAP will break ground to put 8 homes on the land behind our church that we have sold to them.

My church answered the question about what is needed and has done something about the issues in our neighborhood. We will be supplying housing, food and water to our neighbors.

As MAP did discernment, King of Glory followed right along.

King of Glory learned to keep listening to our neighbors and to keep connecting with diverse communities. Being part of MAP has enriched our lives and helped us view our congregation and our neighbors in a different light.

In December 2023, the congregants of the MAP faith communities gathered to have a combined musical event. There was singing and sharing, praying and clapping to the music. We gathered together to share what we value the most in life – our faith. It is wonderful to learn more about our God through the diverse group of people in MAP. During the week after this event one of my parishioners told me she had no idea what the Mormons believed and was really pleased to hear more from Amy Fife of MAP. She said that her whole outlook on this faith tradition has changed when she heard Amy speak and she wants to know more. These connections are meaningful.

What a joy this adventure has been. Each of us has been blessed by all of our connections.