Dear Partners in Mission:
July 21-24, 2022 I had the privilege of being part of three events that, although all happening in DFW, encapsulate much of what is happening in our synod in this season.
Thursday July 21st we laid to rest our beloved sister the Rev. Doris Harris. Doris, a leader raised up by the NT-NL Synod, served as pastor amongst us for three decades. She was a patient and yet persistent voice challenging us to see the realities of racism in our midst and how that impacts our ministries across our territory. Her death after an extended illness was both a deep grief and also a release as we entrusted her to God’s everlasting mercy and grace. In this season in which we have had so many griefs and losses, it was a comfort to be together with clergy and lay leaders who came from across our territory to be present and bear witness that Doris’ impact on us as synod will continue, her legacy is secure.
Sunday July 24th we celebrated 100 years of Central Lutheran in Dallas and also their recent merger with Bethany-Dallas. This festive liturgy both celebrated the legacy of Central but also challenged us to look forward to the future of this new thing that has been created. The difficult and challenging decision of Bethany to end Word and Sacrament ministry on their campus and join together with Central gives them new possibilities as they complete the call process as well. For the sake of mission we must be willing to do new things, to let go of ministry silos and come together for vitality and future possibilities for mission, to “Ask, Seek, and Knock” as Jesus commands us and be open to where the Holy Spirit might lead us.
This spirit of willingness to try new things and step up to lead was also on display July 21-23 at Briarwood during the multicultural youth event MYJ2. With the cancellation of the ELCA national gathering, that also meant the MYLE gathering centering the experiences of youth of color was also cancelled. We had hoped to have a gathering for all our synod youth earlier in July but unfortunately that didn’t come together. However, our Conferencia Latina leadership, particularly Rev. Rachel Ringlaben (Emanuel, Dallas), Lupita Escamilla (San Gabriel, Alvarado), the Rev. Moises Carasquillo (First Sagrada, Garland and Santa Maria, Irving), came together with Anna Thompson from Briarwood to ensure an event for youth of color would happen in 2022. I was blessed to have some time with those young people and their leaders, again inspired by their spirit and energy for service. Not waiting for “the synod” or Briarwood to create an event, instead stepping up to make it happen for their young people.
In this season these three events reminded me again of how God continues to be at work amongst us despite the many challenges we face. The pandemic, civil discord, changes in religious participation, these are all real. Yet despite these challenges God is at work. We grieve our losses, particularly our sister Doris, yet we take from her faith, our faith, confidence that God will open new doors and provide new opportunities when we, in faith, “Ask, Seek, and Knock.”
In Mission Together,