* Starting next week, please note that our weekly news will be published and emailed on Tuesday mornings. *
Message from Bishop Gronberg
Dear Partners in Ministry:
For just over four months we, in the territory of NT-NL, have been dealing with the realities of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our leaders across NT-NL have dealt with significant challenges and changes to our life together, found new ways to connect, and continued to serve their communities. As it has been said, the church has never been closed; it is deployed for mission.
You have also been wise in considering when and how we might come back together for worship. Given the variety of contexts in our territory it makes sense that various ministries have made different choices. You have heeded my counsel and been in communication and for that I am thankful, particularly as the number of people infected and dying of this virus continue to rise.
This past week a headline caught my attention. Northpoint Church in Atlanta, a congregation that regularly gathers 30,000+ worshipers at its multiple locations, has decided to cancel all in person adult worship services through the end of 2020. This move, as Pastor Andy Stanley of Northpoint notes, is controversial and not universally welcome in his community. However, he and his leadership discerned it was the right decision for Northpoint at this time. What really struck me was when asked about this decision Pastor Stanley said this…
“We are intentionally an outward facing organization. Spending time and money to create safe-ish Sunday morning gatherings struck us as insider-focused.” He goes on to say “In-person services during COVID is neither missional nor evangelistic—unless of course the mission of the church is to gather in a building on Sunday morning.”
The clarity of mission in those statements is remarkable and inspiring. Stanley realizes that for them, in their context, with their mission and organization, this decision is consistent with their values and focuses them for the remainder of this year. They no longer live in the limbo of decision making but can focus on how best to reach out with the gospel in new ways.
Please understand I am not advocating that decision for all our NT-NL congregations. Atlanta is a different context than our diverse and wide ranging territory. But what I would invite all our communities to consider is how and where are we spending our energy in this time and planning for the future. To ask the 5 questions I have invited you to ask of yourselves and your leadership. To look outward and forward, having a vision for your ministry that goes beyond when will we be able to “get back to normal.”
To assist you in this work the synod staff and our ministry at Briarwood are providing resources for you weekly in these summer months. I invite you to utilize these online resources for worship, bible study, crafts, stewardship development, and song time. Share these with your congregations and your friends as we seek to not look inward in this time but outward towards connecting in new ways. To proclaim the love of Jesus Christ in word and deed despite the restrictions we choose for ourselves on gathering in a pandemic.
Coming this fall, additional resources for Christian education for youth and adults will be provided through our ministries. These again will be provided for our communities to assist you and hopefully share a burden with you and your pastors and staff as they try to plan for fall programming in such uncertain times. Resourcing you is yet another way that we work #InMissionTogether in this time. It is my fervent prayer that when this pandemic is over, and it will one day be over, we will look back on it as a time we came together to serve our neighbors and move outward with the gospel in new, creative, and gospel filled ways. Know you are daily in my prayers, and I covet yours.
Bishop Erik K.J. Gronberg, PhD
July 26 Sermon Recording Options
Pastor Robert Smith recorded a sermon for July 26 using Matthew 13:31–33, 44–52.
Vimeo (download): https://vimeo.com/user118660328/download/439827457/8100c9f25c
Vimeo (watch): https://vimeo.com/439827457
Sermon transcript can be found here: https://www.ntnl.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/2020.07.26-Sermon-Robert-Smith.pdf
How to Start & Sustain Effective Addiction Ministry
Thursday, July 23, 11am Central
Another ministry? It can sound overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. This webinar is about going beyond hosting an AA meeting in the basement and making sure understanding and addressing addiction is integrated into the work of your community. This is not another thing the pastor needs to do but a lay led ministry that can take on a life of its own.
- Learn a tried and true process for starting an effective addiction ministry.
- Hear stories of success and lessons learned.
- Understand why faith communities can be effective in addressing addiction while integrating scientific research and evidence-based approaches.
Starting an addiction ministry won’t just help those who struggle with alcohol, drugs, codependency, and other addictions, it can transform your entire community.
Featured Resources for July
“In countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and among Tribal nations in the U.S., it is commonplace, even policy, to open events and gatherings by acknowledging the traditional Indigenous inhabitants of that land. While some individuals and cultural and educational institutions in the United States have adopted this custom, the vast majority have not. Together, we can spark a movement to change that.
We call on all individuals and organizations to open public events and gatherings with acknowledgment of the traditional Native inhabitants of the land.
Acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way of showing respect and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture and toward inviting and honoring the truth. Imagine this practice widely adopted: imagine cultural venues, classrooms, conference settings, places of worship, sports stadiums, and town halls, acknowledging traditional lands. Millions would be exposed—many for the first time—to the names of the traditional Indigenous inhabitants of the lands they are on, inspiring them to ongoing awareness and action….
Acknowledgment by itself is a small gesture. It becomes meaningful when coupled with authentic relationship and informed action. But this beginning can be an opening to greater public consciousness of Native sovereignty and cultural rights, a step toward equitable relationship and reconciliation.”
(Credit for these recommendations and resources, as a starting place, goes to Vance Blackfox, Other+Wise, and The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.)
Recent Blog Posts
(https://www.ntnl.org/lead-journey-testimonial-pastor-ernie-hinojosa/ – published Jul. 14)
(https://www.ntnl.org/mlk-luther-league-convo-1961-thinking-about-2021/ – published Jul. 15)
Where in the world is?
Based on recommendations from public health officials, and to live out our call to love and protect “the least of these,” Bishop Gronberg, Pastor Totzke, and Pastora Bañales are suspending all congregational visits, in-person meetings, and travel until further notice. They will continue to meet with individuals and groups online. Though many buildings are closed, the church is all of us, and ministry continues.
With the ever-changing guidelines and recommendations in our world right now, as we maintain physical distance in social solidarity, please keep in mind these events may be moved online, postponed, or cancelled:
- Jul. 22: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders – Preparing Ourselves to Lead with Anti-Racism, Zoom
- Jul. 23: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Jul. 29: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders, Zoom
- Jul. 30: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Aug. 1: ESET (SSTE) Módulo 8 (Día 1 de 5), Zoom
- Aug. 5: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders, Zoom
- Aug. 6: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Aug. 8: ESET (SSTE) Módulo 8 (Día 2 de 5), Zoom
- Aug. 8: Public Witness Team meeting, Zoom
- Aug. 12: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders, Zoom
- Aug. 13: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Aug. 13: Interim Pastors monthly meeting, Zoom
- Aug. 15: ESET (SSTE) Módulo 8 (Día 3 de 5), Zoom
- Aug. 19: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders, Zoom
- Aug. 20: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
Access our full online Calendar here. Updates made regularly.
Do you have news or announcements to share? Please submit to Jason (email@example.com) for consideration for upcoming NT-NL News.