From Thursday March 1st to Tuesday March 6th I was in Chicago for the ELCA Conference of Bishops gathering. This is an important time when all 65 bishops of the ELCA gather together with churchwide staff and spend time in discernment, worship, prayer, and conversation. We hear reports from various divisions of the churchwide organization as well as from our standing committees. I have the privilege of serving on the Theological and Ethical Concerns Committee. So Thursday afternoon we spend 2.5 hours together discussing the statement on Women and Justice, as well as discussing other issues of theological discernment in our church.We then had worship with the youth leadership core team of the ELCA. Important time meeting with high school youth particularly with the #ELCAYG2018 coming up so very soon in Houston. Excited to have 31 participants from around the NT-NL participating in my group. We had a zoom call together on Sunday afternoon.
This time together is very important for our work as bishops. While our churchwide organization does a great deal of coordinating work for our church the reality is that we are more a network of synods and institutions. As such, to have time to connect, hear from our churchwide institutions and leaders and build relationships between each other is vital. I am so very grateful for my colleagues in the conference and their faithful leadership and friendship. It is a privilege and responsibility to do this work. This conference was especially poignant as it was the final conference for Bishop Ray Tiemann of the Southwestern Texas Synod. Ray was my bishop during candidacy and then my mentor in the conference. We had a lovely dinner out with him and Region 4 bishops to celebrate and give thanks for him.
It was my honor to serve as chaplain and worship leader for the conference on our final day together. I must confess it was the most nervous I have been leading worship since my first synod assembly. To stand before my colleagues, many of whom are excellent preachers and teachers of the church, and lead us in morning prayer and bring a word of reflection is a daunting task. I am grateful for having gotten through this first experience. Look forward to it again, but grateful we rotate the opportunities so it will be a little while before called upon again.
While this time is helpful and productive. I am grateful to be heading home.