Dear Partners in Mission:
This past week I had the privilege of attending the fall Conference of Bishop’s meeting in Chicago. This was the first time since Spring 2020 when all 65 bishops were able to be in attendance. No Covid related absences or other obligations pulled us away. And it was remarkable to observe the changes in the conference since I was elected in 2016. Most notably the conference is now majority bishops who identify as female. And the number of bishops who are people of color is at its highest level ever in the life of our church. These outward signs of increasing diversity also bring with it different perspectives and experiences. All of which enrich our conversation and life together.
A main conversation point at the conference was updates about the work of the Commission for a Renewed Lutheran Church (CRLC). This commission was authorized by our 2022 Churchwide Assembly in response to memorials from synods (including NT-NL). One key point that was made time and again was that the purpose of this commission was NOT to make dramatic changes to our structure but to study and recommend to the 2025 churchwide assembly whether calling a re-constituting convention would be productive and help us move forward in mission. That is an important distinction. We often I believe think we are smaller than we actually are. But moving an institution with over 9,000 congregations and 3 Million members takes time and must be done thoughtfully.
We in NT-NL are blessed to have a member of the CRLC from our synod. Anthony Ormsbee-Hale is a member of Messiah-Weatherford. He has already been meeting with synod leaders and will be holding other listening opportunities as we move forward. I am grateful for his willingness to serve.
Finally, I want to lift up our partners in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone. They are gathering in assembly this week in Freetown at the Jubilee Center. At this assembly they will ordain 10 new pastors for service in the ELCSL. That is an incredible testament to the leadership of Bishop Momoh and the ELCSL education teams. We celebrate with them while also recognizing their need as they move forward. The water bagging/bottling campaign has proved successful and profitable enterprise. They continue to seek other ways to make their church sustainable financially. Bishop has communicated to me that they are going to lease their church headquarters property in the Aberdeen neighborhood of Freetown and relocate operations to the Jubilee Center. As you may remember this facility was a vision that was never fully completed. But Bishop Momoh believes it is the time to ensure the facility does not fall into ruin. To ensure this he has worked tirelessly to gain clear title to the property (this was an issue previously) and engineering design to ensure the building is stable. To finish out the first floor so they can use it for offices will require some capital investment. More information about this will be coming, but I am grateful for your generosity to the NT-NL and ELCSL that enables us to be partners with Bishop and the church in this work.
A blessed October to you all. Fall is here. May the temperatures follow.