Dear NT-NL Leaders,
In February 2020 we launched our first Briarwood Leadership Journey. 20+ members of NT-NL congregations spent 2 weeks in Turkey and Greece going Paul and beyond, exploring leadership in the early church, Byzantium, and the current political/economic/ecclesial realities. It is incredibly difficult to believe that just one year ago we stood in the Hagia Sophia museum just months before it was returned to status as Mosque. While we were there we began hearing more about this Covid-19 Coronavirus, what little did we know of the changes it would bring.
Change has been our constant companion in 2020 and seems to be into 2021. You and your communities have experienced the rifts and cracks in our society, communities, and congregations that pandemic did not create but reveals. We have seen acts of incredible selfishness and also acts of sacrificial love. In all these changes, challenges, losses and griefs, together we have heard and seen time and again the promise that God is with us. That God is ever faithful and has entrusted us with this amazing gospel to share that can inspire us to live sacrificially for the life of the world.
And so as we move into 2021 you do so I pray understanding you have been Entrusted. Entrusted to be stewards of God’s mysteries in the world (1 Cor. 4:1-2). Entrusted to share the faith and help others become disciples of Jesus Christ. Entrusted with resources of time, talent, people, wisdom, and finances. Entrusted to be faithful with all that God has given us for the proclamation of the gospel and service to neighbor. You live out this stewardship of God’s generosity when, as I have observed in 2020 our communities have…
- Adapted and moved online. Finding ways to connect in new ways we never imagined in February 2020.
- Been faithful in providing ministries to those experienced food insecurity.
- 7 candidates were ordained into the office of Word and Sacrament.
- Parish Lay Ministry and SSTE courses moved online.
- 29 congregations increased mission support in 2020 for our shared work both as synod and churchwide.
- Congregations made faithful and challenging decisions to end Word and Sacrament ministry to share resources.
- Over 100 leaders gathered for 2 days of learning around the theology and witness of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
- Despite the divisions in our society we endeavor to connect, share, and learn.
- Prioritized our neighbors well being over our own desires for comfort and what we know.
Today registration opens for our 2021 online synod assembly to be held on April 24th. Our theme for this assembly will be “Entrusted.” Drawing on the ELW baptismal liturgy in which the Pastor reminds the parents of their duties…
“As you bring your children to receive the gift of baptism, you are Entrusted with responsibilities:
to live with them among God’s faithful people,
bring them to the word of God and the holy supper,
teach them the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments,
to place in their hands the holy scriptures,
and nurture them in faith and prayer,
so that your children may learn to trust God,
proclaim Christ through word and deed,
care for others and the world God made,
and work for justice and peace.”
As synod in 2021 you and I have been entrusted with God’s mysteries (1 Cor. 4:1-2) and are expected then also to be trustworthy. But this expectation, this law, also comes with promise. The parents alone do not make promises in baptism. The sponsors and community also make promises to support the parents and the baptized in this work. And as you know also, God ultimately is the promise giver in baptism.
As you continue your work in 2021 know you have been Entrusted with a Word to share and a gospel to live. I give thanks to you, the leaders of NT-NL for the ways you have shown yourselves trustworthy in 2020 and look forward to being #InMissionTogether in 2021.