–By Elizabeth Ahlman
Recently, LCMS missionary Kendra McNatt was commissioned as a Director of Christian Education (DCE) and then installed at Trinity Lutheran Church, Frankfurt, Germany as the Director of Christian Education for the congregation.
Kendra has been serving as a Globally Engaged in Outreach (GEO) Missionary and DCE intern at Trinity, Frankfurt since 2013. Originally aiming to be an animal trainer and veterinarian, Kendra received her Bachelors in Psychology and Biology from The University of North Florida in 2010. Eventually switching gears, Kendra headed to Concordia University in Seward, NE where she studied to be a Director of Christian Education, eventually earning her Specialist Certification in 2015.
Kendra has been serving Trinity by working with middle school and high school youth, teaching children’s messages, helping to run the Sunday School program, and more. At Trinity, Kendra works alongside fellow LCMS Missionary, Rev. Dr. Wayne Braun. Braun serves as the pastor for this unique congregation of English-speaking expatriates from many different countries. Pastor Braun says, “Kendra brings a deep faith in our Lord Jesus, a great love for kids and youth and a strong desire to ground them in God’s word and connect them by faith to Jesus.”
“She is creative and has great integrity,” he continued. “She is a reliable, faithful and easy to work with colleague in the ministry.”
She says that her favorite part about working at Trinity is the people there. The congregation, though ever shifting, also is tightly bound to one another through the bonds of faith, as well as similar life circumstances with frequent cross-cultural moves.
However, those same strengths do bring challenges, as well. Kendra says those challenges include
working with a wide array of cultures – its amazing and beautiful how much someone’s culture plays into their concept of church and faith life, but it can be challenging to understand if its not your own culture. Also, the “revolving-door” that is unique to Trinity’s DNA. We have permanent or long-term people at Trinity but every year (especially over the summer) we say goodbye to almost 1/4 of our congregation and then usually in August and September, we welcome a whole bunch of new people.
With Trinity’s unique circumstances, it’s important to have someone who understands those changes and shifts. Kendra has been experiencing these shifts and how to deal with them since 2013, and so is also able to help her students learn to cope with the changes that happen for expatriate, third culture kids.
Some of those with whom she forged relationships at Trinity and other important people from her life were present at Kendra’s commissioning, which took place at her home church of Bethlehem Lutheran, Jacksonville Beach, FL, on March 13, 2016. They included Kendra’s parents Darrin and Lori; sisters Stephanie (and her fiancé Kyle), Katie (and her fiancé Kyle), and Sarah; her Aunt Tani; Rev. Gary Schuschke from St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, Oviedo, FL, Kendra”s childhood church; and Rev. Bob and Rita Flohrs (Pastor Flohrs was the previous pastor at Trinity Frankfurt under whom Kendra began her internship).
After Kendra returned to Germany, Trinity Frankfurt celebrated an installation service with special activities afterwards. Rev. Wayne Braun installed Kendra during the Divine Service on Sunday, April 17, 2016. Kendra says, “The Sunday school students, teachers, youth, leaders, and my colleagues surprised me with cards, flowers, and several prayers during the service. And there was cake and coffee following the service.”
With her commissioning and installation, Kendra is also making the transition from GEO (a term of 1-2 years which is renewable) to Career Missionary (a minimum five year original commitment).
During her time as an intern, Kendra says the most valuable things she has learned are “Flexibility in everything! Carve out daily time with God. Let other people help you and learn from them. Listen first.” These are attitudes and skills that will surely serve her well as she continues her work as Director of Christian Education at Trinity, Frankfurt.
Please join us in giving thanks for her service, her commissioning, and her continued work at Trinity!