Kraushaar attends leadership session

A national program is helping the Rev. Andrea Kraushaar push her church to do more.

Kraushaar was one of 12 United Methodist pastors selected for the Lewis Community Leadership Fellows program, a new pilot program for young clergy five to 10 years out of seminary.

“It’s for leaders in the church, and how we can do more linking our church and our community,” she said.

Most of the other pastors are from larger churches. Kraushaar wasn’t sure how they were picked.

“It’s super humbling to be asked to be part of it,” she said.

Kraushaar has attended two of the four sessions so far, and said the First United Methodist Church is already seeing results.

“In just two sessions, I’ve learned so much, and been able to implement so much,” she said.

The pilot program is run by the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. Funding from the Lily Foundation allows the pastors to attend for free.

The first session, in October 2013, was on courage, and featured General James Cartwright, former commander of U.S. Strategic Defense, and journalist Evan Thomas, who is known for reporting on the Monica Lewinsky affair, among other stories. Bobby McClane, a professor of preaching, brought it all together.

McClane knew Martin Luther King Jr., Kraushaar said, and talked about how King applied the gospel to what was going on around him.

“They talked about how, as a clergyperson, we need to have the courage to stand up for what we believe, to preach the gospel – even the scriptures that are difficult,” she said. “Having the courage to push our congregation to be more missional, to reach out more.”

When she came back, Kraushaar asked her church how they could show courageous hospitality.

“It was wonderful to see the congregation jump on that,” she said.

A few months after the session, the church put on a new event bringing Santa Claus to the children in the neighborhood.

It was “for neighborhood and low income kids to come and get free pictures with Santa. We had a free lunch,” she said. “Then we had different craft stations to teach them the true meaning of Christmas, the Jesus’ birth side of Christmas.”

Later, some people stepped forward and said they felt called to go on a mission trip, so the church sent them to Florida.

The church also started a book club.

The second session focused on generosity.

“I was more nervous the second time,” Kraushaar said. “What does that mean? It means money.”

But the session was about being generous with everything – time, talents and service, as well as money.

“If you’re going to be faithful to any church, you have to give financially,” she said.

After that session, the church began serving a “community manna meal” for the homeless, and others who might not have enough to eat. It is served two weekends every month at the church and is completely free, she said.

She was also inspired by Bill Shore, who founded “Share Our Strength” with an ambitious goal.

“He’s always believed he can end childhood hunger in the United States. And if you look at his website, he has made huge strides to that,” Kraushaar said.

“He said to pick your battles that are big enough to matter, and small enough to win.”

Kraushaar said the third session will be on well-being.

Each session has a fair amount of required reading and other homework, she said, some of which will help the seminary analyze the program, and if it should continue to offer this in the future.

“I hope they do,” Kraushaar said.