Dear NT-NL Leaders:
When you receive this letter, it will have been 117 days since my first communication and guidance sent to you related to Covid-19. In that time you have received many communications from me, our staff, the leadership at Briarwood, as we have worked to equip you and support you in this adaptive leadership challenge.
You have learned a great deal about how to worship online, do pastoral care, weddings and funerals in physically distant ways, read epidemiological charts, interpret guidelines from local, state, and national public officials, all while managing congregational expectations. The cracks in our society this crisis has revealed and widened also created social movements that have called upon us as a nation and a church to listen more closely to our siblings of color and examine the realities of systemic and institutional racism in our midst.
This has been a significant challenge, and you have been equal to the task thus far. On April 26th, I gave a state of the synod address, and I am just as convinced now as then that our synod is strong, adaptable, faithful, and recognizing even more our interdependence. We are, you are, #InMissionTogether.
So my word to you on this 117th day is please take time to rest. Sabbath is an essential part of our spiritual life. It is not a suggestion from God but a command, an expectation, that God’s people would find time for themselves, and for the earth, to rest. As I stated months ago, we are in a marathon, not a sprint, and this crisis and the challenges it creates are going to be with us for an as-yet-undetermined length of time.
To assist you in this rest, we are providing a few resources for you as well.
- Synod Staff will be providing sermons for each of the Sundays of July. The first, for July 5th by me, is available for download here or can be viewed on the NT-NL Youtube channel. Spanish translation of the transcript is here.
- For your youth and young adults, Briarwood is producing new content weekly. Go to camp online and share this with your families, particularly those who have never experienced outdoor ministry before.
- Conversations at Briarwood are engaging challenging, relevant, and thoughtful content for your congregations. Please share these links and utilize them.
- Your synod stewardship team has resources and is available to work with your leadership through this time to deepen our understanding of God’s abundance.
- Sign up for a coach. NT-NL has trained coaches, and through our relationships with ELCA Coaching, we can resource you in English and Spanish.
- The continually growing list of resources related to worship, coming together, and other resources for this time on our website, including my 5 Questions each congregational leadership team should be asking.
These resources are provided for you and your community because we are #InMissionTogether and so you can find time to rest. Obeying God’s commandment to remind us that the Sabbath day is to be kept for us and for our communities’ benefit. By taking time for rest, I pray you will be rejuvenated, not just in your physical energy, but also in your creative and spiritual energy and sense of call. None of us were prepared for this pandemic and all the movements that have taken place around us and involved us. No one has led through such a time, but as we celebrated and continue to celebrate 50 years of the ordination of pastors who are women, we also can remember another great woman of faith, Esther. When confronted with her unexpected challenge, when doubts and anxiety filled her, she was reminded that she was called “for just such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).