The Ottumwa Courier

October 22, 2012

Building walls or breaking them down?


OTTUMWA — I moved from southern Minnesota to Ottumwa six months ago to serve as the pastor of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran and Munterville Lutheran Churches. Since moving here, I’ve had many positive interactions with individuals who live and work here.

In September, I had the opportunity to meet other pastors in Ottumwa when I was told of an upcoming Christian men’s breakfast. I attended the breakfast and met men and pastors from the community. A week later, I attended a “COMMUNITY OF UNITY” worship service sponsored by these same pastors. The following Wednesday, I joined the pastors for lunch at a local restaurant. The next week I again met them for lunch, however, something seemed to have changed. I was told that I was not welcome to join them for lunch, prayer or worship in the future because my Lutheran understanding of God’s love and grace revealed through Jesus Christ and the Scripture was different than their understanding.

Prior to the lunch, the owner of a local radio station in Ottumwa contacted me and asked if I would be willing to pray live on the radio. I said yes, and we agreed that I would come in on Oct. 23 to pray during the prayer and praise programming. That invitation was subsequently rescinded after I had lunch the second time with the pastors. I can only assume that the owner was told or did not think God would listen to my prayers.

I have met with other pastors in Ottumwa who are very open to meeting regularly. If there are pastors interested, I would be happy to share how, when and where this is happening. I suggest you may want to ask your pastor if he/she is building walls that divide or breaking down walls to unite.

Pastor Ron Barnett