Christopher P. Ode, pastor
Pastor Ode began his ministry with the men of Living Stones in August 2018. Contact: email@example.com; 206-719-5221
I’m home now (Pr. Chris' article published in Fall 2018 issue of The Rock)
All I know is I’m not home yet - this is not where I belong…Take this world and give me Jesus - this is not where I belong…*
I hear those words every week in worship (and nearly every day in my head). They’re from a song written a few years ago by the Christian rock band Building 429, a group well-known by many of the men whom I now serve: the Living Stones Prison Congregation inside the walls of the Washington Corrections Center (Shelton, WA).
The words haunt me with their power - especially in this place: it’s one thing for a group of young Christians gathered at a concert to belt them out, or for a suburban megachurch to lift them in praise on a Sunday morning. But within WCC? From the lips of men who’ve experienced all too personally the slings and arrows of life’s trials and temptations - men who cry out “this is not where I belong” with a raw and undeniable double-meaning? There are no words. The power of worshiping Christ in this context is life-changing - for the men, for our visitors and volunteers, and for me.
Until recently, my ministerial journey looked very different: since graduating from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (Berkeley, CA) in 2009, I’d served two congregations - one in a fishing village on the coast of Washington and one in the suburbs of Seattle. Both were smaller worshiping bodies filled predominantly with older congregants - “cradle-to-grave Lutherans” for the most part. I enjoyed both experiences and grew from them, and I’d assumed my entire career would follow a similar path.
But God - as so often happens - had other plans, and I unexpectedly found myself interviewing for the position at Living Stones a few months back. It wasn’t a call I had sought, but after a single experience worshiping with the men, I knew that it was a call I had to accept. The reason was simple: All I know is that I’m home now: this is where I belong.
*Songwriters: Jason Ingram,Jason Roy © ESSENTIAL MUSIC PUBLISHING