Members of Mount Cross Lutheran Church believe that all ages should work together to support each other in an intergenerational ministry.
"What we seem as a nation to have lost in the last few decades is that sense of children coming and feeling that they belong," the Rev. Elaine Watskey said. "God has called us to live out the mission and the ministry in various ways within our congregation, within our community. Statewide, nation, international --e do all of those things to the best of our ability."
Not long ago, the Mount Cross Friendship Club- a group comprised mostly of retirees -- invited preschool to sixth-graders of the WOW (Word on Wednesdays) program to join them for lunch. Children interacted with adults, talking about themselves in front of the group.
Many children wrote thank-you notes after the program. One child‘s note said "Thank you for making me feel special." That is exactly what members of Mount Cross are trying to do, make people feel special.
One of the things church members are excited about is the search for a member of the congregation who will take on the role of children, youth and family minister sometime in 2005.
Both the congregation, and the pastor they chose two years ago, feel a deep calling to community service.
Another way they answer this commitment is by reaching out and making their 6-acre campus, including the Lamona Retreat Center, available to Scouts, cancer support groups and others in need.
Founded in 1962, Mount Cross members met in homes and other community buildings. A committee is working on compiling a church history.
Lutherans believe that the scriptures point them to Christ. They celebrate two sacraments: communion and baptism.
In the Lutheran tradition of Christianity, there are three primary synods or congregational councils: the Wisconsin synod, the Missouri synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or ELCA.
"Payson is blessed with all three traditions." Watskey said.
The ELCA synod, which formed in the 1970s, began ordaining women and welcoming them into the leadership roles.
"I'm blessed with a faith family here at Mount Cross who celebrate the fact that I am a woman," she said. "They needed and wanted certain gifts to live out the mission they felt Christ was giving them. The fact that I had these gifts, it didn't matter if I was male or female."
Although she admits in her gentle Midwest accent, "as women in ministry, as pastors, we are still pioneers."
Watskey is a woman comfortable in the role she believes God called her to in 1997. Before that, she had spent 20 years as a partner in a real estate development firm.
The pastor believes others might be surprised by, "How much we believe in accepting each person for exactly who they are and say, ‘Come! Be a part of the fun and fellowship we have while we worship Christ,' at the Mount Cross Lutheran Church.
Traditional Lutheran services begin at 8:30 a.m. every Sunday; contemporary services are at 10:30 a.m. The Christmas Eve family service starts at 6:30 p.m. and a candlelight service is at 9 p.m. For more information contact Mount Cross Lutheran Church at (928) 474-2552.