For Barbra Miner and Brenda Turner, the Beth Emunah Messianic Synagogue in Agoura Hills, California is more than just a house of worship. Indeed, they consider the other members of the Messianic temple more like family than a congregation.
“One of the hallmarks of Messianic Judaism is a strong sense of community,” explains Brenda. “As a body, we go through life events together. A good majority of us have been together from the birth, marriages, naming of babies, circumcisions – all the way to death. It draws people in.”
“Sometimes I’m just so immersed in it that I kind of take that for granted,” reflects Barbra. “We are part of each other’s lives, through the good times and the bad.”
A Time for Healing
Like every family, the congregation has weathered significant challenges over the years. Most recently, the congregation navigated a difficult leadership transition when their founding Rabbi retired after 22 years with the congregation.
“As a community we had gone through the pain of losing a founder,” recalls Brenda. “We went through a very spirited family opportunity to disagree regarding the direction for a new leader. It was hard, but very much like in families where you disagree, you get it all out and then come back together. And then God gave us our new leader, and he had been right in our midst all the time.”
Shortly after their new Rabbi was appointed, Brenda and Barbra – who are both certified Leadership Development Facilitators for Lead Like Jesus – helped organize and facilitate a LLJ Encounter for 22 members of the temple’s leadership team.
“The leaders and our new Rabbi had worked together long enough to really start to bond under his leadership. So the timing was essential in the success of our Encounter,” said Brenda
“Going through the Encounter provided a time of bonding, and perhaps even healing, for us in this time of transition,” adds Barbra. “Everyone was so open and transparent, vulnerable – including our new rabbi and his wife. It just gave us so much insight into the core of each other’s beings. It was amazing.”
Beyond their relationships within the congregation, Encounter attendees were quick to apply the principles they’d learned to their own families and workplace situations.
“We have one person on our board who is a high profile editor and well-known leader throughout the comic book industry,” explains Brenda. “He told us about a situation where he needed to confront someone about a creative idea that was not in the best interest of the company, and how he really felt so much better equipped having gone through the Encounter. He thought about his own ego and the other person’s ego and how pride was getting in the way. It really helped him frame the situation in a whole different perspective and to show the other person that another option would be better for all involved, including their audience.”
Another attendee, Shirley, wrote to Brenda and Barbra, “One of the things this has done for me is that it has caused me to look more closely at what ‘loving’ folks should actually look like. Seems it is more personal than I had allowed it to be. This means doing a better job of connecting one-on-one with people, caring about team members and their concerns – a care that transcends the ministry in which we both may find ourselves.”
Yeshua Brings Transformation
In their several combined years of experience as LLJ facilitators, both Brenda and Barbra have personally experienced the transformational difference Jesus – or Yeshua, as they refer to Him by His Hebrew name – can make in any church, business or organization. And so they hope to offer more Encounters within their circles of influence, and particularly for members of the Beth Emunah Messianic Synagogue.
“This has given us a foundation for how to communicate with one another,” says Barbra. “When issues do arise – and they always will – it really gives us a model to talk with each other. ‘Are there any pride or fear issues here that we should be aware of?’ ‘Are there some practices that we need to revisit in order to work together as effectively as we can?’ It provides a common language and a foundation that we can use as we continue to move forward as a leadership team.”
Brenda adds, “My heart’s desire and prayer now is doing this as a ministry and taking it out to our local community, churches outside of our congregation. I especially look forward to the times when Barbra and I will be available to co-facilitate these Encounters.”
“I want to reach out to more communities with this message,” says Brenda, “because it’s truth, and it really does make the difference.”