Tucker’s Telegram

Tucker Henderson

I  had the great privilege of attending both of the major faith events in New York Mills this past month.

During the end of June and early July, the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America (ALCA), of which our own Apostolic Lutheran Church here in town is a member congregation, held its annual meeting and convention at the school. I also had the pleasure of participating in the community’s fourth annual Bible Reading Marathon, which was held the week after the convention.

Now, you can read all about both of them in this week’s Dispatch, but I thought I would share my own observations of the events and the great things I experienced. Things that aren’t necessarily newsworthy enough for the front page, but still impactful nonetheless.

First of all, I have to say that I am a newer member of the Apostolic Church here in NY Mills. I have deep, deep roots in the church with much of my family tree coming from there, but I didn’t grow up in the congregation and only started attending about three years ago.

This is just the start of the story that I told time after time to a plethora of wonderful folks who stopped to greet me with the phrase “God’s Peace” during the convention. I soon learned to be ready for the next question: ‘What is your name?’

Now, this question is innocuous enough, so at first I answered with my first name only. After a few times of the follow up, “What’s your last name?” I realized what I was being asked.

See, the ALCA congregation, though over 50 churches strong, is a fairly small world when you start talking to one another. After I figured that out, I recognized that the second question is a common way that connections can be made with brothers and sisters in Christ. We are after all, members of the same small Lutheran congregation in the grand scheme on things.

I started by telling my last name and explaining that I was the only Henderson in the local congregation, if not the entire congregation. Then I went on to spell out my faith history as people were interested in why I began attending the ALCA church. I met a lot of interesting people this way and felt so welcomed into the community as a whole. Certainly a great way to be introduced to my first church convention.

One of my very favorite moments from throughout the week was during the youth gathering at Finn Creek Open Air Museum. Now, most of the buildings were closed as we were primarily using the pavilion for the worship and meal and the lawn for volleyball and mingling.

A few people had asked about opening the chapel as it was a church event after all. Since I am a board member, I consulted with that night’s coordinator, who happened to be fellow board member Shell Tumberg, and we decided to open it up for another place for us to get to know one another and worship.

Pretty quickly, a young women from Washington asked me if she could play the antique pump organ. It gets used once a year during the Finn Creek Festival, so I told her if she knew what she was doing, to give it a whirl. What a beautiful melody that came out of that old organ.

With the old “Hymns and Songs of Zion” books that line the pews in the chapel opened up, we started picking songs and singing along to the pump organ. Pastor Nick said it best when he observed that the acoustics in that chapel made for a night of incredible singing and fellowship. It was truly something special and all of our voices melded together beautifully that evening.

Later on in the month, I was invited to read at the Bible Reading Marathon. I had been invited for the past few years, but I had been busy working at camp for the past two summers, so I hadn’t had the chance to go before. Now that I was in town, it worked out perfectly to attend and participate.

Sandi Bentley, the local coordinator, had seen me read my Finnish Bible for a scripture reading at the convention the week before, so she asked if I could bring it along to read at the Bible Reading Marathon as well, so I did. Reading the Bible in Finnish was an interesting experience, my tongue started twisting in knots towards the end, but it was fun to be able to spread the Word of God here in town like it used be so often heard in the Finnish language. I was told later that Andy Tumberg had also read his Finnish Bible for the Marathon, so there were a few opportunities to hear the language spoken during the week.

I sat and listened in on a few of the readers as well while I took pictures for the paper and visited with the reading coordinators about how the readings were going, how full their sign up sheet was getting, and learning more about the event. The marathon was located in the yard next to the Congregational Church, so it was a nice and quiet street to amplify the readers’ voices.

It certainly was a meaningful week and as Sandi Bentley had mentioned to me about the month, you could certainly feel a greater presence and power about the community during that time.