Message from Bishop Gronberg
Dear Partners in Mission:
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” 1 Cor. 12:12
Yesterday on Pentecost we heard these words from the Apostle Paul. That though there are many members, we are one body in Christ. And as one body then we belong to one another as we belong to Christ. In 2020 on Pentecost we must acknowledge that many of the members of this body are hurting. Today, June 1, our Presiding Bishop encouraged us to participate in a national interfaith and civic day of mourning. This day was intended to be an opportunity to collectively acknowledge that as a nation more than 100,000 people had died of COVID-19 in just three months. To acknowledgement that although the grief and loss from this pandemic have been unequally and unevenly shared across our nation this loss of life, equivalent to the population of Abilene, TX, we must take time as a body to acknowledge not just this loss of life but also the many other losses experienced as well. So I invite you to join your synod staff in taking time today to do the holy work of mourning because members of our body have and are suffering. For more information about this day, check out Sojourners: National Day of Mourning and Lament.
Of course when this day of mourning was set we had no idea the additional outpouring of pain and grief we would experience Pentecost weekend. The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has intensified this collective experience of grief as one more example of how communities of color are marginalized and targeted in our nation. The anger, frustration, and protests continue to reveal the cracks in our society and the uneven experience of what it means to be part of this nation. Combined with the specter of white nationalist groups attempting to capitalize on protests to fuel hatred and violence, there is even more painful truth that we as a nation must acknowledge today.
Sunday I was honored to be able to join in worship online with St. John, Dallas, one of our majority African descent congregations in NT-NL, and I was invited to listen to their stories of frustration, systemic bias, and oppression. One member said, “the feeling that a knee has been on our neck for 400 years.” The body is hurting, and as we are one body, that means we are hurting.
FREE 10-Week COVID Class
Lenoir-Rhyne University professors dive into pandemic discussion with FREE 10-week COVID Class
Everyone has been affected by the novel coronavirus.
Lives have been lost. Jobs have been furloughed. Schools have moved online. Families have stayed home. Fear has grown, and rumor has run rampant.
Two Lenoir-Rhyne University professors — Dr. Taylor Newton and Dr. Devon Fisher — are attempting to stem the flow of misinformation and replace that with knowledge and understanding through a new class they’re teaching this summer term, “COVID Class.”
“COVID-19 touches pretty much every area of our lives,” Fisher said. “It’s not just a medical issue or an economic issue. It affects nearly every aspect of who we are as humans – our physical bodies, our finances, our faith, our imaginations. As such, Dr. Newton and I feel an urgent need to address COVID-19 from those different perspectives.”
COVID Class is a 10-week course that started Tuesday, May 26 with the beginning of summer term, but late enrollments are welcome. There is no charge for the two-credit course that is open to current and incoming LR undergraduate students. LR alumni and the general public can also take the class at no cost without earning credits.
“I’m most looking forward to learning alongside the students in the class,” Newton said. “As a social psychologist, I have my own take on the coronavirus pandemic, but getting to understand the perspectives of experts from many different disciplines is exciting.”
Newton and Fisher are serving as the official developers and course facilitators; however, they’ve gathered a diverse team of LR faculty from Hickory, North Carolina, Asheville, North Carolina, and Columbia, South Carolina, to assist in course instruction.
“Faculty tend to be fairly specialized in their areas of expertise,” Fisher said. “We recognize that we don’t have all the answers. I’m not entirely sure what history can teach us about pandemics of the past, but I know that Dr. Veronica McComb will have amazing answers to that question. I can speak to the role of literature given that is my area of specialization.”
The course begins with Dr. Kathryn Tinkelenberg, professor of nursing and director of the master of science in nursing program, offering an overview of the science of epidemiology and the responding role of health care. Dr. Daniel Grimm, assistant professor of biology and former professional researcher in microbiology and biochemistry, will then take the class through a detailed understanding of the COVID-19 virus.
The class then spends the rest of the term diving into the holistic impact of the pandemic.
“The complexity of this crisis, touching nearly every aspect of our personal and societal lives, is staggering,” Newton said. “There is so much information out there, not all of it good. The liberal arts, with a broad disciplinary base and focus on the habits of the mind, is an educational approach well positioned to tackle this complexity.
“As the saying goes, we teach students how to think, not what to think. We hope to model the process of sifting through rapidly evolving information with both confidence in what we know, as well as intellectual humility to recognize what we do not yet know.”
Unpacking White Privilege
The Important Work of Making the Church Less Harmful
For years, the ELCA has been working to educate and inspire Lutherans to promote fairness and racial equity in our churches, communities, and country. At the 2019 Churchwide Assembly, the Strategy Toward Authentic Diversity was adopted. This strategy includes a commitment to digging deeper into the history and theology that “ground, clarify, and justify our call and continuing commitment to ethnic diversity and inclusion.” So get ready to dig deeper, be vulnerable, have uncomfortable conversations, and learn and grow with the article “Unpacking white privilege” and its corresponding study guide, both of which were featured in a recent edition of Living Lutheran.
Featured Resources for June
World Refugee Day is June 20
On June 20, the world commemorates the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees. Around the world more than 50 million people have fled their homes. Each day, thousands more follow.
Around the world, communities, schools, businesses, faith groups, and people from all walks of life are taking big and small steps in solidarity with refugees. This World Refugee Day, we challenge everyone to join together and take a step with refugees. Join the movement. You can learn more here.
Migrant and Refugee Sunday can be observed on any Sunday
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) invites you and your congregation to infuse new meaning into the phrase welcome the stranger. Join us in celebrating the resilience and courage of refugees and migrants in America and in your own community!
Download “An Immigration Catechism” — an educational resource examining current realities and policies relating to refugee resettlement and asylum process, and prompting participants to reflect and discuss the classic catechetical question, “What does this mean?” It comes as a PowerPoint presentation with notes for leading participants through both the information and the faith-based reflection. It is well-suited for use in adult forum, Bible study class, women’s circles, or other group study and discussion settings. Biblical and theological framework and reflection questions are embedded in the presentation. The study can be completed as one session; but also has breakpoints built in for spreading it across several sessions.
Save the Date
Wednesday, June 17
As part of the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, voting members adopted a resolution designating June 17 as a commemoration of the martyrdom of the Emanuel 9—the nine people shot and killed on June 17, 2015, during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
Our relationship to the shooter, as well as two of the slain, reminds us of both our complicity and our calling. Together we confess that we are in bondage to the sins of racism and white supremacy and, at the same time, we rejoice in the freedom that is ours in Christ Jesus who “has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us” (Ephesians 2:14). May God continue to guide us as we seek repentance and renewal, and racial justice and reconciliation among God’s precious children.
An online ELCA Prayer Service for the Commemoration of the Emanuel Nine, including Bishop Eaton and leaders from around the church, is being prepared for viewing beginning on June 17, 2020, the fifth anniversary of the martyrdom of the Emanuel Nine.
Resources for the Commemoration of the Emanuel Nine can be found at ELCA.org/EmanuelNine.
Recent Blog Posts
(https://www.ntnl.org/may-25-2020-birthday-reflections-grief-and-gratitude/ – published May 25)
(https://www.ntnl.org/grief-coaching-webinar-recording-now-available/ – published May 28)
(https://www.ntnl.org/religious-freedom-02/ – published May 28)
(https://www.ntnl.org/rising-up-for-racial-justice/ – published May 31)
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:
- Jun. 3: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders, Zoom
- Jun. 4: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Jun. 7-11: Vital Congregations – Vital Communities: Building Leadership Capacity for Latinx Ministries, Austin, TX
- Jun. 10: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders, Zoom
- Jun. 11: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Jun. 13: Public Witness Team meeting, Arlington, TX
- Jun. 17: Commemoration of the Emanuel Nine, Online
- Jun. 17: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders, Zoom
- Jun. 18: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Jun. 24: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders, Zoom
- Jun. 25: 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) for consideration for upcoming NT-NL News.