This fall, eight life-sized scarecrows gathered around a bright yellow sign that reads: “Waconia Moravian Church—In Essentials, Unity; in Non-essentials, Liberty; And in all things, Love.”
From left to right there is a Democrat, a Republican, a police officer, a “Black Lives Matter” activist, a pastor, a gay pride person, a Vikings fan and a Packers fan— and they are all holding hands. This display was part of a city-wide annual scarecrow contest sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.
Our Joint Board discussed this scarecrow idea presented by one of our youth group leaders, Kim Breeden (and executed by our Carver County Moravian Senior youth group and our Middlers youth group), and decided that it met our first core value of Respecting Theological and Political Diversity.
The core value reads:
“As a church committed to the essential belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we recognize and respect theological and political diversity. We seek to provide a communal space where people of passionate faith and mind may not agree, but will walk together in love and will seek to nurture each other with honesty and authenticity.”
The Joint Board understood that some of the scarecrows might start a conversation, and while that conversation might be risky it would be welcome. However, the Joint Board agreed that the display was not about just one scarecrow, it was about having all of them standing together, all of them holding hands. That is our church. That is the visual of our church. And it is neither something we hide, nor is it something we are embarrassed about.
We have people in the church who stand passionately on various pivot points of a variety of political, economic and social issues and yet there are times in worship where we are all invited to stand up and hold hands as we sing a hymn. Our scarecrows did that for us publicly on a daily basis, come rain or shine.
On the first day we installed the scarecrows, a small boy walking with his mother stopped and stared up at the Viking scarecrow and then gave him a big hug because they were wearing the same shirt! A short time later a stranger on his phone was overheard to say: “You have to see this! They have a Republican and a Democrat holding hands!”
Our youth are proud of their hard work building a sturdy and thought-provoking display of their church’s core values. While we are not sure we will win the competition (we haven’t won in the past 3 years…) (Ed. note: they didn’t this year either…), we may start a conversation about a white “Black Lives Matter” activist holding hands with a black police officer, not to mention a Vikings Fan hand-in-hand with a Packers fan. These conversations on what truly unites us will be worth the work. ■
The Rev. Dr. Amy Gohdes-Luhman is pastor of Waconia Moravian Church in Waconia, Minn.