Teamwork with Pastor Matthew Gonzalez

Teamwork with Pastor Matthew Gonzalez

"[Covid] has given us the chance to sit back and find out what has been helpful and beneficial, and what is not important...And more importantly, what has been missed.”

One word that comes to mind when talking to about his ministries at Trinity Lutheran Church and Our Saviour Lutheran Church is “teamwork”. With every question about his ministries at those churches in the Bronx, he answers with “we” and “us”; there is no “I”. The passion in his voice is obvious when he speaks of the response of the members of his churches to the Covid-19 pandemic. “It has given us the chance to sit back and find out what has been helpful and beneficial, and what is not important.” Then he thinks a minute. “And more importantly, what has been missed.”

And what is it that they missed? “We always look for opportunities to gather together,” Pastor G says, “but also to gather with our community members. The Covid pandemic has shown us how needed those things are. People miss them. They need the interaction to be together as God’s people.” He further explains that the two congregations have been searching for ways to reach out to their communities at large. This means everything from very simply leaving the door open for passerbys to come in and pray, to the complex teaming needed to initiate the process of setting up hubs for the Covid-19 vaccine. They have asked for and distributed donations of clothing, food, and masks. At Our Saviour the focus had been on the younger generation; the congregation has been committed to continuing a basketball program while strictly following DOE and DOH safety guidelines and policies to keep their players, staff, and families safe.

“This program is very intentionally reaching out to the young people in our communities. It provides a lot for these young people, especially when they need the community and time to do something good. It keeps kids from getting involved in the wrong things by giving them something to look forward to.”

This intentionality touches everything that Pastor G and his members set about doing, and it goes beyond keeping numbers of people in the pews. “We have such a unique opportunity to share with others and be intentional about it. This means not being inward-focused on just our members. It means being outward-focused.” He notes that this actually builds up the church inwardly, as well. “Helping our inner community as well as those outside helps us to feel closer to one another and recognize the similarities we have with the people walking by the churches. It has brought the members closer and the community has been magnified. Every pastor wants that to happen. Covid and this time has allowed for that here.”

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