Dear Partners in Mission:
During assembly the theme of my report was Law and Gospel using Luther’s quote, “The Law is for the proud, the Gospel for the brokenhearted.” We were reminded the Law requires us to tell the truth about the challenges we face, the Gospel gives us hope beyond those challenges and reminds us God is at work for and through us. When I was elected I stated I did not want to see any of our ministries close. However, adaptive leadership, learning leadership, means we must be aware of and open to new things. The reality is in many contexts communities have changed too much for a ministry to continue as it has been. Or perhaps a facility has become more a burden to ministry than an asset. The Law calls us to be honest about that, the gospel reminds us death is not the last word.
In the coming month two ministries of NT-NL have chosen to discontinue Word and Sacrament ministry. On Sunday, May 21st at 3pm we will have a Service of Thanksgiving for the ministry of St. John’s, Oak Cliff (2939 Sunnyvale St, Dallas, TX 75216). On Sunday June 11th at 10am we will also have a service of Holy Closure for Immanuel, Posey (12421 US 84 E, Posey, TX 79364). All are invited to attend these services as we give thanks for two congregations that faithfully served very different contexts over the years. St. John’s in South Dallas transitioned from being a predominately Anglo congregation to one serving the African descent community in their midst. Immanuel in Posey served a rural farming context southeast of Lubbock, which has seen its population decline in recent decades. In both cases these faithful congregations and leaders have discerned it is time to utilize their assets for mission in new and different ways.
Even when we know this is a faithful decision there is grief for us in closing Word and Sacrament ministries. Yet that is where the Gospel comes to comfort us and turns our eyes to where we see God at work in our communities. Sunday May 7th we saw this clearly as we celebrated 175 years of 4 Mile Lutheran, Mabank. In that time we gave thanks for the heritage of faith we have received and live into. We also acknowledged that achieving 175 years of continuous worship is significant and not something to be taken for granted. It takes committed leaders, lay and rostered, along with a host of other circumstances to make that happen. And we dedicated ourselves to continuing to do that work.
We also celebrate new leaders being formed. Last Saturday our Parish Lay Ministry Academy met again for the last time this spring. From this semester there will be new graduates who are trained to serve their congregations as lay leaders. We also have two ordinations coming in the next month. This Saturday, May 20th at 4pm we will ordain Sean McConathy to serve Trinity, Lockney at his home congregation of Trinity, Fort Worth. And on Sunday June 4th at 3pm Francisco “Frank” Salvador will be ordained at Holy Trinity, Irving where he has been called to serve. All are welcome for both these occasions, the color of the day is Red.
The Law reminds us that we are all under the reality of sin and death. Congregations are not exempt from this life cycle. However, we trust in Christ that death can bring new life. And when we see new leaders being formed for lay service, celebrate 175 years of ministry, and ordain a new generation of pastors we experience that new life.
As we continue the 50 days of Easter we proclaim that new life when we cry…”Christ is Risen, Christ is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!!!”
In Mission Together,