Welcome to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, starting today! This international observance is organized by the World Council of Churches and encourages all Christians to pray and work toward unity.
Living into this call, Campus Pastor Erin Hittle of Stair Crest in Muskego, Wis., shared the following devotion with Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS) employees.
Opening last May, Stair Crest became the sixth PHS community in Southeastern Wisconsin, but it is doing something new and exciting in the region. While it welcomes residents of all backgrounds, Stair Crest was designed from the outset to be the home of the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa.
When I tell people that I am the pastor at a community with a large population of retired Catholic sisters, I’m usually met with an awkward pause, a confused face, and the response “Um, but you’re Presbyterian, and a woman ... so ... how does that work exactly?”
Truthfully, none of us knew what to expect before we began, but I am happy to report that it works beautifully! With humor, humility and hugs, the residents and staff of Stair Crest have been intentional about creating a religiously diverse, cohesive community where our shared faith is at the center.
One way we do this is by committing to worship together. We even plan our services together, combining our liturgies, hymns and prayers. A little Catholic here, a little Presbyterian there, maybe a sprinkle of Episcopal or Lutheran for good measure. In the end, and by the Spirit’s intervention, it becomes more than the sum of its parts — something bigger, and incredibly powerful.
There is a genuine spirit of excitement in worshiping together, and an experience of healing in praying together. There is even a sense of participating, in our own small way, in progressing the church forward to unity.
Is it always easy? No. Are there sometimes misunderstandings? Of course. But always, there’s love, invitation and conversation.
Resident Sister Kathleen Flood sums it up beautifully, saying: “Unity is mutuality. Here at Stair Crest, that mutuality is growing in dialogue, shared worship and a desire to model the realm of God that Jesus revealed. It is our prayer that we can be an example for other blended communities, because this is how it should be.”
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one — as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” —John 17:20-21 (NLT)
The Rev. Erin Hittle joined PHS in 2014 and has served as Campus Pastor first at Avalon Square and now at Stair Crest, in Muskego, Wis. She is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and has a history with and passion for hospice care. She lives in Muskego with her husband Doug and their redheads: two pre-teen girls and one precocious little boy, plus a rescue mut, Scout.
The Light for the Way series provides staff with an examination of a biblical reading to deepen our focus on scripture. Thank you for engaging with this series as we seek wisdom through prayer and reflection as a Christian Ministry.
Find more in the Light for the Way series:
Love one another
Get to know us: a Christian ministry
Introducing Light for the Way, a new devotional series