I have been offered some space to reflect on my 36 years in the Minot faith community, as the receding waters of the Mouse carry me to new life in the Twin Cities, and will do so here.
When I came here in 1972, to teach at Minot State. I was still in full flight from that faith community. I had discovered, as an undergraduate in 1958, that I was smarter than God, and I had turned my back on the church in which I had been raised. But by 1975, after 17 years of trying to make sense of a world without God, I didn't feel so smart, and I decided to read a book about grown-up faith (C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity) and to try going back to church. It didn't take me long to figure out that worked a lot better, and I never looked back. Twenty-six years later the same year I retired from teaching I was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church. Now I am preparing for my second retirement.
A lot has happened, to Minot, and to the faith community, in those 36 years. The Empire Theater closed. Oil was in North Dakota twice. Flood waters devastated the valley. The world has apparently grown more secular. We hear language on TV that I hesitated to say in my high school locker room. Church attendance in the mainline denominations has declined. In 1972, women priests in my denomination were still an oddity. Openly gay clergy (and bishops) didn't exist.
Rev. George Slanger
For some of my friends, some of these things mark "progress"; for others, they are causes for alarm. But for me, they are blips on the radar screen. The great truths of the Bible, the drama of salvation, the comfort of Christian fellowship, the mysteries of the Eucharist, the satisfactions of prayer, the complexities of theology are overwhelming realities that drown out the ceaseless chatter of the headlines, as Jesus calmed the storm.
It has been an honor and joy to have served the faith community in Minot, first as layperson, and then as priest. It has been a pleasure to be part of the coalition of churches offering a free hot lunch every day of the week. Especially it has been a joy to have been part of the ecumenical movement in Minot that held a wonderful celebration at Bishop Ryan High School New Year's Eve in 1999 and then went on to begin the Palm Sunday Pilgrimage and the Lenten soup worships. Through those activities, I have made friends I will treasure always. Thank you Minot, for 36 great years.
Reflections, a mini-sermon written by Minot and area clergy, will appear each Saturday in The Minot Daily News. Clergy interested in writing a mini-sermon should contact Religion Editor Loretta Johnson at 857-1952 or Debbie Sandvold at 857-1950. The toll-free number is 1-800-735-3229.