It is time to get the discussion going. How to meet the needs of incoming people and those who lived in the area all their lives. Increased rent, homelessness, rising cost of living, fear, greed. (Pastor Avis Anderson, Glendive)
I look forward to people's thoughts, opinions, and insights!
Have there been any proposals for mission development--maybe the synod could sponsors 3 or 4 new church starts in the area...
Seems to me Montana has a long history of being exploited by boom & bust economies so folks in the Oil Patch might be able to look back to our history to anticipate some of the problems and/or solutions. There will certainly be opportunistic & greedy people who will take advantage of the situation, but faith-based communities have just as much opportunity to make an impact in protecting both locals and newcomers. This may be one of those times when churches in the area need to go off-lectionary to focus on justice passages, though they may be tempted to go the other way and please the larger population. This thread reminds me that we need to be praying regularly for churches in the Oil Patch.
The more I think about these things and talk about them, the more I see enormous depth and opportunity for ministry in the places that feel the impact of any kind of boom/bust. I agree with Tim that we can learn much from our state's history and the numerous times we have experienced these cycles. Places like Butte, Colstrip, and even Glasgow (with the coming and going of the Air Force Base) might provide some useful insights. This is an opportunity to be prophetic - to call a thing what it is - when addressing greed, fear, declining morality and safety, and the other issues associated with rapid economic development. It is also a time to be gracious - to find in the love of God the means by which we can support and encourage those wounded in the midst of great growth and prosperity, as well as reaching out to those who are benefitting who at the same time struggle with issues of housing, loneliness, separation from families, and the like. Above all, we and our communities can grow in grace as we pray together and as we seek the power of the Spirit to draw us together to face whatever might lie ahead for our churches and our towns.
I wish that I had answer to the questions and concerns that people have raised about oil patch and its movement west. There is help if we look into the historic past of boom and bust locales. It seems there needs to be a prophetic voice that speaks about the blessings associated with rapid economic development, but also speaks about the issues of pain and heartache. I thus agree with Pastor Scot
One of the warning signs in Montana ministries are the long distances and the "lone ranger" mentality we all succumb to. How to do work "together" is what makes the difference. Please pray for the 78 year old woman in my congregation, without family, living on her Social Security who faces the possibility of eviction from her apartment because she can't afford the rent. Where is she supposed to go? What is she going to do? This is the same woman who gives to Global hunger and world missions out of her "widows' mite". We need to put a face on each action -- we have to "keep it real".
This seems like an opportune time for the church to ask the question: What kind of community do we want to live in? If I lived in one of the impacted communities I'd want to live where we came together to insure that elders especially could stay in their homes despite rent increases. It may require not only leaving the lectionary on Sunday morning, but taking the message to community forums, city council meetings, boardrooms, etc. Prayers continue...
As part of my vocation I associate with many involved in county government and although they see the effects of the Bakken boom or feel it coming I get the real sense that they're behind the eight ball on this by not being proactive through legislation to not only protect their infrastructure but also the societal impacts this boom is bringing with it. The people issues are real and I've seen it in our own business in Williston. I had dinner with a commissioner from Pondera County this past week and I brought this very issue up and pondered out loud possible legislation redirecting oil and gas tax money to the impacted counties to address some of the people needs. Rent subsidies, mental health counseling, schools, housing, etc. It will be interesting to see if the coalition of oil and gas counties can put something together before the upcoming session. In the meantime, whenever I get a chance, I will keep reminding them that there's a huge need that needs to somehow be addressed. (Tom Gossack, Redeemer Lutheran, Great Falls)
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