Message from Bishop Gronberg
“But God proves God’s love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
This week we have the opportunity to participate in two important times of listening, lament, encouragement, and worship with our African descent communities in NT-NL. This is a vital time for us as synod to come together with our siblings of African descent and listen and learn together. To give thanks for the proclamation of the word that came to Galveston, TX on June 19, 1865, that President Lincoln had freed the slaves (a word 2.5 years delayed).
Zoom links for services can be found here: Emanuel 9 and Juneteenth flyers
You are also invited to come for a time to recognize the sin of racism and violence that led to the martyrdom on June 17, 2015 of Clementa C. Pinckney, Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Lee Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson (The Emanuel 9). Martyrs because they welcomed a young white man into their midst during bible study as an act of faith. A young man with roots in an ELCA congregation whose mind was twisted by the sinful ideology of white supremacy and subsequently murdered them in cold blood.
These are two vitally important days for us as church to observe. Juneteenth because for too long it has been ignored by the majority of Americans and not received the national recognition it deserves. June 17 as a Commemoration for the Emanuel 9 because these martyrs are witnesses to the cost of Christian hospitality and welcome. Additionally, it is a day for us in the ELCA to commit ourselves to speak boldly against the ideology of white supremacy, to listen and learn from our siblings of color, so that those we are called to shepherd will recognize it for the sin and lie it is.
Listening and learning are critical for us as people of faith and as members together in the NT-NL synod. We come from different experiences and places, and we each have a story to tell. But if I am honest, and I pray you understand this as well, there are many amongst us whose stories have not simply been overlooked but institutionally and systemically marginalized. The church, and particularly majority white churches like the ELCA, have too often participated in this silencing or stood complicit in our silence while others suffered. That is what Dr. King convicted the white moderate Christian of in his “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.”
Continue reading this message from Bishop Gronberg: Emanuel 9 and Juneteenth: An opportunity to listen and learn.
What are we learning from mental health ministry grantees?
COVID-19 has brought changes to everyone’s lives including how to maintain faith communities and their many ministries. Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Dallas, Texas, was no exception. Mt. Olive is one of the ELCA Disability Ministries mental health ministry grant recipients. Mt. Olive’s ministry plan includes partnerships with United Methodist, Episcopal and other Lutheran congregations along with Pathways to Promise. Companionship training, led by Pathways to Promise, and the companionship methodology were a pivotal and life-changing experience for the individual participants of the training and ultimately the congregation.
The partnership and trust relationship between Pathways to Promise and Mt. Olive Lutheran Church has aided the congregation to stay connected during the coronavirus pandemic by its learning to use Zoom conference calls. Successful use of Zoom has allowed for worship, Bible study and companion leaders’ strategy meetings to continue during this time of social distancing. Companionship principles and practices were implemented to aid the congregation in learning how to use Zoom.
Companionship has become not just a program but the core of Mt. Olive’s identity in this current public health crisis and with anticipation of remaining so beyond the present. The five principles of Pathways to Promise are ways of understanding the congregation’s role with each other as members, with neighboring residents, other nearby congregations and local organizations. The companionship model has taught the congregation that folks with mental health issues are treated the same as everybody and anybody else, but this concept is just as effective with those who have never been diagnosed.
The mission of Mt. Olive Lutheran Church is to “serve as a vehicle through which the gospel is spread.” As in-person training is not an option at this time, Mt. Olive has proposed an alternative plan for Pathways to Promise to host an online (Zoom) companionship training with the thought of doing the “Train the Trainer” workshop online. Through a discovery process Mt. Olive looks for ways to grow disciples who will lead their ministries as an outreach to the community and collaborate with five congregations to propel the Companionship Movement.
We celebrate the ongoing work of Mt. Olive Lutheran Church and its openness to finding adaptive ways to continue to be the church and serve its community even amid the unanticipated challenges of a global pandemic. As an ELCA congregation, we are proud to call you our sisters and brothers in Christ! God’s work is in our hands, and we do this together for the sake of the world.
Written by Jean Sandberg (A-team convener for the Accessibility Task Force, Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod)
Witnesses to the transcendent | Testigos de lo transcendente
In her June/July column for Living Lutheran, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton notes that the “restrictions imposed by the pandemic have made it clear that people are searching for hope and meaning and love.” As those restrictions are eased, she urges us to assess the ways our congregations are witnesses to the transcendent, keeping in mind all those who worshiped with us online but may not walk into our churches. Read her column in English: Witness to the transcendent o lee su columna en español: Testigos de lo transcendente.
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.
2020 Theme: #StepWithRefugees – Take A Step on World Refugee Day
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!
Click here for a special message from ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and LIRS President and CEO Krish Vignarajah.
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
NT-NL Commemoration of the Emanuel 9
June 17, 7pm
June 19, 7pm
“Lift Every Voice and Sing”
Recent Blog Posts
(https://www.ntnl.org/online-vs-in-person-attendance-new-realities-for-2020/ – published Jun. 14)
(https://www.ntnl.org/briarwood-counselors-and-engaging-local-leaders/ – published Jun. 14)
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. 17: ELCA Commemoration of the Emanuel Nine, Online
- Jun. 17: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders, Zoom
- Jun. 17: NT-NL Commemoration of the Emanuel 9, Zoom
- Jun. 18: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Jun. 18: Conversations at Briarwood with Taurean J. Webb – American Racism and the Present Uprisings, Zoom
- Jun. 19: NT-NL Juneteenth Celebration, Zoom
- Jun. 24: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders, Zoom
- Jun. 25: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Jun. 25: Conversations at Briarwood with Ulysses W. Burley, III, MD – COVID-19 and Black America, Zoom
- Jun. 27: Living Connected: The Spiritual Discipline of Creation Care (Food)
- Jun. 30: Living Connected: The Spiritual Discipline of Creation Care (Food)
- Jul. 1: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders, Zoom
- Jul. 2: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Jul. 2: Conversations at Briarwood with Vance Blackfox – American Indian Memory and Resistance, Zoom
- Jul. 2: Interim Pastors monthly meeting, Zoom
- Jul. 8: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders, Zoom
- Jul. 9: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Jul. 9: Conversations at Briarwood with Carmen Lansdowne – Crossing Borders and Church-Based Action, Zoom
- Jul. 11: Public Witness Team meeting, Arlington, TX
- Jul. 15: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders, Zoom
- Jul. 16: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Jul. 16: Conversations at Briarwood, 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.