Letter from the Bishop
Partners in Ministry,
Happy Epiphany!!! 2016 was a momentous year for us as NT-NL. We gave thanks for, and said good bye to, the Rev. Kevin Kanouse as our synodical bishop. The installation celebration in September brought over 1,000 worshippers together, along with ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. New staff have been brought on board at the NT-NL office, and congregational life, the center of our life together, has continued in many vibrant ways.
During the Bishop Election process, I outlined five key points of focus that I, as your bishop, would attend to. Since the election in April, and taking office July 1, these have been my foci for our work together.
First, be present with our leaders and congregations. Since my election, I have met with each of our Synodical conference gatherings and been present for installations and other gatherings. Additionally, I have been blessed to be on the campus, either for worship, meeting, or another special event, of over 60% of our congregations. In addition, my Associate, the Rev. Kris Totzke, has been active visiting congregations as well. I hope I have visited your congregation or have a visit planned. If not, please invite me.
Second, encourage creative growth. In these visits, I have seen how congregations are engaged in many different growth opportunities. Some are planning for new ministry sites. Others are serving their communities in many ways. Rural, urban, and suburban, I am hearing of vital ministry and growth happening in NT-NL. With the addition of our new DEM (hopefully to be announced this month), this work will only continue to grow. We have an amazing opportunity to plant and multiply ministries across our synod and it will continue to be a priority for me that we engage that mission seriously.
Third, we must have accountability and clarity in goals with our Latin@ and ethnic-specific congregations. My staff and I are engaging in deep listening with these communities. Part of the delay in securing a DEM is doing so in such a way that connects with, and engages, these communities. We are learning together, and I can assure we are moving with all deliberate speed to plan for, and grow these, vital ministries.
Fourth, our investment in Briarwood must pay dividends. The staff at Briarwood, led by their Executive Director, the Rev. Phil Geleske, does a wonderful job. Great strides have been made growing the camper and retreat ministry base. In addition, they are looking in 2017 to new and exciting ways to reach out to the communities directly surrounding Briarwood. That said, it is no secret the technology promised at the Briarwood campus in the DLA campaign hasn’t lived up to expectations. We are in conversation and making plans to improve this technology so that the off-site, on-line, interactive learning experience is a true reality. I am committed to finishing the task and deliver on the promise this leadership center can bring.
Finally, we must name privilege and work for justice. We are called to live into the social teachings of the ELCA (https://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements), as well as engage the context of our church. This is complicated work. Less than a week after I took office, 5 Dallas Police officers were murdered while protecting a peaceful Black Lives Matter movement protest. In response, many opportunities were offered by our Public Witness Team to gather and lament, as well as learn and grow, particularly through the BRIDGES book studies. Justice, of course, also means service and action. I just returned from the ELCA Bishop’s Academy in Charleston where we visited Mother Emanuel AME Church and endeavored to forge deeper ties between our denominations. January 16, I am honored to have been asked to preach at the opening worship of the Tarrant Churches Together Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service to be held at Baker Chapel AME in Fort Worth. In February, the Lutheran Legislative event will give us an opportunity to engage our public servants in Austin, particularly around issues that impact our Lutheran social ministries. I pray all our communities will engage their contexts and take on this challenging work.
These focus points will continue to develop and shift in 2017. As we move forward in our mission together, know that I am praying for each of your communities and your leaders. As we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the reformation, we are asking ourselves at our assembly “What Does This Mean?” I pray we will take seriously and ask that question of NT-NL. What does it mean to be Lutherans in our context today? How are we called and positioned to witness to Christ? What challenges and opportunities has God placed before your community? How will you respond in ministry together with NT-NL? These are but a few of the questions we should be engaging.
For the trust you have placed in me as your Bishop, I am honored. Living in the light revealed to the nations at Epiphany, I look forward with anticipation to 2017.
In Mission Together,
Bishop Erik K.J. Gronberg
Next BRIDGES Book Club gathering
Join us for our next BRIDGES Book Club gathering on Saturday, January 14:
Book selection: Letter from a Birmingham Jail (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
The BRIDGES Book Club is an initiative of the NT-NL Public Witness Team for Peace and Justice.
TriSynodical Theological Conference
The ELCA Strategic Directions 2025 document, Called Forward Together in Christ, has been completed and released. We strongly encourage conversations within your congregation around our shared calling. Please submit stories to email@example.com that show how your congregation is living into these strategic directions and goals. We will be lifting these up on our website, in our NT-NL news, and in our synod’s quarterly insert in Living Lutheran.
Where in the world is?
- Jan. 15 – St. Luke’s, Richardson
- Jan. 16 – Tarrant Churches Together MLK Day of Service, Baker Chapel AME (see link below)
- Jan. 15-16 – First, Longview, and Good Shepherd, Marshall
- Jan. 14: Public Witness Team for Peace and Justice monthly meeting
- Jan. 14: BRIDGES Book Club: Letter from a Birmingham Jail (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
- Jan. 16: Tarrant Churches Together MLK Day of Service
- Jan. 23-25: Tri-Synodical Theological Conference
- Jan. 27-29: NT-NL Junior High Gathering
- Feb. 10-11: Mission / Synod Council Meeting
- Feb. 10-11: Tri-Synodical Lutheran Men in Mission Gathering
- Feb. 11: Public Witness Team for Peace and Justice monthly meeting
- Feb. 12-14: 2017 Lutheran Legislative Event
- Feb. 19-21: LSTC Seminary Sampler
- Feb. 25: North Texas Senior Fest 2017 (ALOA)
- Feb. 25: Creation Care and Climate Change (PWT)
- Mar. 3-5: NT-NL Peer Ministry Leadership Training (grades 9-12)
- Mar. 3-5: NT-NL Lenten Retreat (grades 4-6)
- Mar. 11: Public Witness Team for Peace and Justice monthly meeting
- Mar. 25: Dallas Area Metro North SWO Retreat
Access our full online Calendar here. Updates made regularly.
Do you have news or announcements to share? Please submit them to the Mission Area office (MissionOffice@ntnl.org) for consideration for our next NT-NL News. Remember to include a picture or logo.
Looking for information in past NT-NL News? Find NT-NL News archives here!