Dear NT-NL Leaders:
August is always an interesting season in the life of the church. Although still summer and many members and leaders are away it is also a time of urgent preparation for fall programming. Plans that have been made now have to be executed. There is an excitement that comes with that along with anxiety as well. And given the season we have been in over the last 18 months that anxiety and uncertainty is heightened even more. As I wrote yesterday in our weekly news the rise of the “delta variant” of Covid-19 has complicated our plans and challenges us to again prioritize our neighbor’s safety and well being over our own desires.
Despite this challenge, the fatigue of continuing to minister in pandemic, I have also in recent weeks heard encouragement and possibility from many places. Again and again you our leaders have stepped up and found new ways to minister in the midst of this ever changing context. For that I give thanks and encourage you to continue to do so. To assist you in this work our 2021 Leadership Convo (October 18-20) will be focusing on how to capitalize on the new things you have been doing. How to turn our reactions and fast learnings in pandemic into more long term parts of our life. To live into the hybrid in person/online future that is a reality for us all.
To assist us in this work we will be led by Dr. Alicia Granholm. Dr. Granholm has two decades of experience in church leadership in mainline and non-denominational settings in the United States and abroad. Most recently she has been coaching four of our NT-NL congregations who are involved in the Leadership for Faithful Innovation Cohort that I highlighted in my 2021 synod assembly report. She will work with us on a theology of innovation as well as how to make new things become part of our life. Joining her will also be, living into our hybrid culture, online conversation partners that will enrich our time including Mikka McCracken, Executive Director for innovation with the ELCA Churchwide office. It will be a good time for us to gather, think together, and learn.
Gatherings are more complicated today than they were a week ago. We will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation in our contexts. However, for now also plan to join us on September 11, 2021 for a time of food, fun, and worship together at Briarwood. Food will be available beginning at 11am, Worship at Noon, and then games and fun for all ages into the afternoon. As the majority of these activities (including worship) will be outside, we can do so safely and with care for our neighbor. It has been over two years since we as synod gathered for worship. I pray you will join us.
In all of this I also pray you will take time for appropriate rest. Building margin into your days and weeks to ensure you are honoring God’s command of sabbath. It is an honor to serve as your bishop. May God bless you in your work this August.