Good Morning! Or if you were in my classroom of 3rd graders I would greet you with “Happy Sunday” to which they would all echo back “Happy Sunday Miss Unti!”
I am sure that many of you are wondering why I am here speaking with you today. I am not a member of your congregation; I have only worshipped here on a few occasions.
I am however, connected to your congregation. Let me take a few minutes to explain my story to you and throughout my story you will learn why I am here to speak with you this morning.
My story begins even before I was born. My story begins with my parents, Kim and Kirby Unti on May 18th, 1980. Yes, this is the day that Mt. St. Helens erupted. This is also the day that my dad interviewed for a call at St. Matthews Lutheran in Renton, WA, another “eruption” so to speak. Things were about to really change and get “shaken up” at the church on the hill.
My dad is a unique pastor, in that he is not your typical pastor, now Bishop, nor is he your typical “church guy.” This could be seen through the St. Matthews logo: “A church for all people.” Not all churches are able to open their doors to the wealthiest and the poorest of the neighborhood and allow everyone to feel welcome and part of a community of worshiping congregants.
As a young adult I felt very welcome and at home at St. Matthews. There are 3 reasons why I felt such a connection to this church, and its ministry, aside from the fact that my family was such an integral part of the church.
One reason why I loved St. Matthews, and what I am looking for in a new church is the use of contemporary worship styles. Contemporary is an interesting word, as there are so many interpretations of this term. For St. Matthews, a critical element to their contemporary worship was the use of popular music such as: The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, etc. Popular, modern music was used to illustrate the message from the sermon. Popular music allows young adults to easily integrate the church and sermon illustrations into their own lives.
This integration occurs in much the same way that salt, when added to a dish, integrates and develops the flavorings. When contemporary music is added to the worship service, it allows the message to be strongly and clearly developed for all.
I am really looking forward to the way in which Jason incorporates his love and passion for music into the worship services at Salt House. As a college student I attended PLU. Go Lutes! Sara and Jason also attended PLU. Jason, and his brothers started a worship service at PLU called “The Cross.” This worship service served as the contemporary worship service at PLU and it also served as my church home during my 4 years in college. I am excited to see what Jason brings to our worship at Salt House.
Another reason why I loved St. Matthews is their use of story. This is one of their Core Values: to tell and share in story. Many of my dad’s sermons were based on story. Oftentimes these stories came from his life and experiences, or those of the congregants. Or, when my sisters and I were younger these stories came from our house and the wild adventures we took our parents on. As we grew older however, these stories came to an immediate end.
As a young person I thrive on story; my story is still developing and unfolding, and I yearn to learn from the stories of others and make connections as to how I can take the biblical message and translate that into my everyday life. This is done through the use of story. For me, it is a necessity of life to have and share in story in much the same way that salt is a necessity in life.
A few months ago I was talking to my parents about a new church that Holy Spirit was developing, and it was designed for young people. I was highly interested and intrigued in this opportunity and my parents encouraged to reach out to Pastor Sara. As a part of our initial meeting and conversation she asked me to share my story with her. I loved this opportunity; my story is one that I am so proud of and one that I want to share with others. When we gather on a weekly basis, it becomes a time for us to share and celebrate our story. This time is a necessity for us as it allows us to debrief from our previous week and prepare for the following week. This is such a revitalizing experience as we are able to see that each one of us has a unique story, and together we are able to shape the story of Salt House and its ministry.
The third and final reason why St. Matthews was a home to me is community. Yes, the church itself offered a community to be a part of, but we also focused on how we, as a congregation, can reach out and support our own community. This was a huge drive for St. Matthews. Some of the many ways we are involved in our community are: we adopt families at Christmas time, we offer our building to be used as a shelter for the homeless, and we offer a safe place for the middle school students across the street to call home. St. Matthews is deeply rooted in their outside community.
Along with community also came a time for us to talk about the issues occurring in our community. My dad loves to “ruffle feathers” in that he will bring up controversial issues, in church, and share his thoughts and visions for ways that Lutherans can respond and react. It has been a wonderful transition for me, to Salt House, to know that Pastor Sara also loves to discuss community issues. It becomes a time for us, as young adults, to examine our role in the issue and see how we, as followers of Christ, can best react and respond to these situations. How we can truly be the salt of the earth.
When I initially met with Pastor Sara she shared with me that a huge mission to Salt House is to reach out to the local and surrounding community. As a congregation we will reach out to the local schools, families, and members of the community to help them know that Salt House is a safe place where they too can feel welcome.
The reason why we are called Salt House is that we, as God’s people are called to be the salt of the Earth. We are called to bring out the best of God in our community and share his message with the people. We are only able to do this when we successfully involve the community in who we are, and what we do as a congregation.
In much the way that salt acts a preservative, we as members of Salt House want people to see that Salt House is a place for them to come and preserve or sustain their faith.
My parents were at St. Matthews for 33 years. May 18th, 2013 (are you noticing a pattern here) my dad was elected to be the Bishop of the Northwest Washington Synod. This was one of the most bittersweet experiences I have experienced. I was so excited for my dad, as this would make our exit, from St. Matthews, our home an easy one. We weren't leaving on bad terms, and we could still have some connection to the church, but it did mean we would lose our church community, and we would be asked to find a new church community. For the past year and a half I have been searching for my new home congregation, and seeking out a place where there were other young adults gathering in worship.
I am thrilled to say that I have been a member of Salt House since November of 2014. Why does Salt House meet the needs of young people today? Salt House offers a safe place for young adults to gather and worship together. Salt House offers a community that is built up of young people, and adults who want to be around young people. Salt House is also a community where we, as people, get to talk about the real-world issues that surround us. It is a safe place for us to ask questions and seek deeper understanding. It is a place where we can explore who we are as Lutherans, who we are as young people, and how can we carry out God’s work and message in our community.
I ask you to consider how you can support the Salt House community. As you have heard, week after week, young people of today need a place to call home. We need a special style of ministry that allows us to come together as a community of young-adults who are worshiping together and discovering how God sees us bringing his story and his mission to our community and ourselves. You should consider yourself a member of that community, and see how you too can be the salt of the earth through the ministry of Salt House.