We had some fun on our trip also on our trip in the Allegheny Synod (western PA, including State College).We toured around the Penn State campus and then hiked up Mount Nittany to get a gorgeous view of all of happy valley. The hike turned out to be a bit more steep and muddy than planned (due to rain this past week). But we made it up.
The toddler insisted on hiking, with appropriate hiking stick. Not sure what the equivalent for an adult would be of an almost mile hike up with 600+ feet of vertical ascent when you are 2.5 yrs old and only 38.5 inches tall. But the viking handled it. Of course he got “shoulder style” down which just added to my quad workout for the day.
All that climbing made us prepared to indulge at the Berkey Creamery at Penn State which has been churning out ice cream and dairy science since 1892. Gotta love those Land Grant Universities.
When I was elected in 2016 to serve as bishop of NT-NL Synod, ELCA I recieved many phone calls from new colleagues in the conference of bishops. I appreciated them all, the thoughtfulness, wisdom shared, and the promise of prayers.
Yet I realized quickly in these conversations that my family and generational context was unique. Being a newly elected bishop with, at the time, an 8 and 4 yr old as well as a 6 month old at home and a spouse also in fulltime ministry was not the norm. As such one phone call in particular was meaningful because it came from one of the only bishops that fit my demographic of also having young children at home. Bishop Mike Rhynereached out to me offering prayers, advice, and the knowledge that there were others making this work. In addition his spouse promised to pray for Kendra, a true gift. For that I was so very grateful.
In addition over the last two years I have appreciated getting to know Bishop Rhyne better and have learned much from him and his context. Particularly how to build community in a synod as well as connect with congregations that feel isolated from one another and are struggling with declining resources.
So it was a great joy to be able to work into this Pennsylvania adventure time with the Rhyne’s. We had dinner last night and immediately our girls and their younger two bonded and played. We enjoyed conversation and sharing together and were blessed by the time.
Then this morning we worshipped together at St. Paul’s, East Freedom, PA. A small congregation that welcomed us with open arms, a gracious spirit, and generous hospitality.
As it happened tonight was also Allegheny Synod Lutheran Night at the Altoona Curve baseball (Pirates AA team). The synod hosted a tailgate meal at their headquarters just a mile from the ballpark and then we were guests of theirs at the game. Once more it was a grand time and we were introduced to what they call in Western PA “Gobs” (otherwise known as Whoopie Pies). It was a beautiful evening, cool by our Texas standards, and the Curves played good baseball.
I am grateful for the colleagues I have in the conference of bishops. And not just the bishops but their spouses and children. To know we hold each other in prayer is so very comforting and strengthening, particularly in these challenging times. Today was a blessed day of connection and community. My kids are gonna want to come back to Altoona soon. #NTNL#AlleghenySynod #InMissionTogether