Message from Bishop Gronberg
Dear Partners in Mission:
During assembly the theme of my report was Law and Gospel using Luther’s quote, “The Law is for the proud, the Gospel for the brokenhearted.” We were reminded the Law requires us to tell the truth about the challenges we face, the Gospel gives us hope beyond those challenges and reminds us God is at work for and through us. When I was elected I stated I did not want to see any of our ministries close. However, adaptive leadership, learning leadership, means we must be aware of and open to new things. The reality is in many contexts communities have changed too much for a ministry to continue as it has been. Or perhaps a facility has become more a burden to ministry than an asset. The Law calls us to be honest about that, the gospel reminds us death is not the last word.
In the coming month two ministries of NT-NL have chosen to discontinue Word and Sacrament ministry. On Sunday, May 21st at 3pm we will have a Service of Thanksgiving for the ministry of St. John’s, Oak Cliff (2939 Sunnyvale St, Dallas, TX 75216). On Sunday June 11th at 10am we will also have a service of Holy Closure for Immanuel, Posey (12421 US 84 E, Posey, TX 79364). All are invited to attend these services as we give thanks for two congregations that faithfully served very different contexts over the years. St. John’s in South Dallas transitioned from being a predominately Anglo congregation to one serving the African descent community in their midst. Immanuel in Posey served a rural farming context southeast of Lubbock, which has seen its population decline in recent decades. In both cases these faithful congregations and leaders have discerned it is time to utilize their assets for mission in new and different ways.
Even when we know this is a faithful decision there is grief for us in closing Word and Sacrament ministries. Yet that is where the Gospel comes to comfort us and turns our eyes to where we see God at work in our communities. Sunday May 7th we saw this clearly as we celebrated 175 years of 4 Mile Lutheran, Mabank. In that time we gave thanks for the heritage of faith we have received and live into. We also acknowledged that achieving 175 years of continuous worship is significant and not something to be taken for granted. It takes committed leaders, lay and rostered, along with a host of other circumstances to make that happen. And we dedicated ourselves to continuing to do that work.
We also celebrate new leaders being formed. Last Saturday our Parish Lay Ministry Academy met again for the last time this spring. From this semester there will be new graduates who are trained to serve their congregations as lay leaders. We also have two ordinations coming in the next month. This Saturday, May 20th at 4pm we will ordain Sean McConathy to serve Trinity, Lockney at his home congregation of Trinity, Fort Worth. And on Sunday June 4th at 3pm Francisco “Frank” Salvador will be ordained at Holy Trinity, Irving where he has been called to serve. All are welcome for both these occasions, the color of the day is Red.
The Law reminds us that we are all under the reality of sin and death. Congregations are not exempt from this life cycle. However, we trust in Christ that death can bring new life. And when we see new leaders being formed for lay service, celebrate 175 years of ministry, and ordain a new generation of pastors we experience that new life.
As we continue the 50 days of Easter we proclaim that new life when we cry…”Christ is Risen, Christ is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!!!”
In Mission Together,
Scammers and Church Directories
Unfortunately, one of our congregations was targeted by a scammer last week: “I just wanted to share our experience with you so you could invite other churches to stay alert when it comes to distributing sensitive information and any email, social media correspondence. I am hoping sharing our experience will help some other church avoid making the mistake that was made at St. Matthew’s. I am including the email that was sent out to our members this morning [Saturday] detailing what took place and the steps we are taking to mitigate whatever damages have or might occur in the future. Peace and prayers, Lesley”
Information about Friday’s Scam
I was overwhelmed yesterday (5/12) by the care, concern, and willingness of all to help someone they thought was in need. It was amazing how many texts I received asking how you could help. That is a great testimony to the foundation of this congregation. The good thing that came out of this scam was St. Matthew’s showed the extent to which they would go to care for their neighbor. I also had the opportunity to talk to many of you, some of whom I haven’t talked to for quite a while, and I enjoyed doing that. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this witness of love for your neighbor.
Also, please accept our apology for any inconvenience we caused you yesterday. On Thursday, myself, and the administrative staff received a request, allegedly from a church member, for a directory. Unfortunately, before the directory was sent, the email address wasn’t checked. The scammer used this directory to send many, if not all of you, a text saying that I needed your help.
Please know that myself, the Community Engagement Coordinator, the Executive Council, and the Lay Pastoral Care Chair all acted as quickly as possible to mitigate the damage. Since I was on the road and did not have access to the church’s email, as soon as I realized that church members were being targeted, I reached out to Sandy Heinrich to send a notice via the Prayer Chain.
Once I realized that the scammer had a church directory, I contacted Kelly. She went to the office earlier than she was scheduled just to send out an email via constant contact to notify people that the text was a scam.
After I spoke with Kelly, I called the President and Vice President of the Council. The President acted quickly to reach out to the Fort Worth Police Department, Fraud Division. She also notified all the Executive Council and instructed Kelly to send out a Facebook message regarding the scam.
The Fort Worth Police Department was contacted because the scammer now has very personal information of each member. We highly recommend that you change your email passwords, block the phone number of the scammer, check email addresses of a person requesting something from you, and whatever else you can do to prevent fraud.
I also reached out to my sister, who is a retired judge, to ask what else we could do to protect ourselves. She suggested that Federal Law Enforcement be contacted because the scammer used phone lines to perpetrate the crime, which are under Federal jurisdiction. I will do this on Monday.
Please know that we will also be working administratively to prevent something like this from happening ever again. Thank you for your understanding and care.
God’s blessings and our thanks and prayers,
Rev. Lesley M. Radius and Faye Youngblood
April ELCA Mission Support Memo
From our ELCA Mission Support Team:
We are excited to share our April ELCA Mission Support Memo with you today. It is a joy how Mission Support is at work across our church: growing leaders, supporting ministry, and engaging us all in our local communities, national church and global work. We are eager to connect with folks across our synods and to share our gratitude for the ways we are church together.
These stories are a reminder of our gratitude for the generosity through Mission Support and a way for us to engage in each other’s ministries together. Karen would love to learn about your stories too so please connect at email@example.com.
Joy and hope from your Mission Support Team,
Karen Kretschmann, Coordinator for Storytelling Engagement
Nick Kiger, Director for Mission Support
Victoria Flood, Senior Director for Mission Support
Featured Resources for May
All congregations are encouraged to choose any Sunday in May to share the truths about the ongoing crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women using the resources provided here (scroll down to Resources). In addition, worship resources will be available for use in services on each congregation’s #MMIW Sunday. We know it will be the first time many congregation members have heard about this crisis, and we hope these resources continue to inspire conversation and learning in ministries and communities across our church. ELCA #MMIW Sunday is also a day to encourage members and guests of your congregation to wear red to bring greater awareness to MMIW. Remember to post a photo on your post social media channels using the hashtags #MMIW and #ELCA.
2023 National Week of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
The National Partners Work Group on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the MMIW Family Advisors are organizing a national week of action May 1-7 to call the nation and the world to action in the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women. To join in the week’s activities and raise awareness with a social media tool kit, visit the events webpage.
National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women #MMIW
Wear red and post. On May 5, we encourage you to join Native people across the United States in wearing red to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Post a selfie or group picture on your social media channels using the hashtags #MMIW and #ELCA. To learn more about the National Day of Awareness and more ways to get involved, read this article from We R Native. More resources can be found on the ELCA MMIW page.
Recent Blog Posts
(https://www.ntnl.org/175-years-of-4-mile-lutheran/ – published May 15)
Where in the world is?
Across a context as wide and different as NT-NL, the reality of Covid-19 is very different. As such, NT-NL synod staff are doing more in-person Sunday visits for worship and occasional meetings. However, as good stewards of time and travel dollars, we will be utilizing online meeting formats into our new hybrid future. Given the rise of breakthrough infections and in order to protect those gathered, the synod staff will choose to wear masks as is deemed appropriate unless preaching or presiding and sufficient social distancing can be provided.
May 20: Ordination of Sean McConathy, Trinity, Fort Worth
May 21: Service of Thanksgiving, St. John’s, Oak Cliff
May 27: Primeras Comuniones en First Sagrada Familia, Garland (11am) y en Adviento, Arlington (3pm)
Jun. 4: Ordination of Frank Salvador, Holy Trinity, Irving
Jun. 10: Lutheran Men in Mission Annual Meeting, Online
Jun. 11: Service of Holy Closure, Immanuel, Posey
Jun. 16-23: Family Vacation
May 18: Youth Leaders lunch, Rejoice, Coppell
May 20: Candidacy committee meeting, Good Shepherd, Irving, then Ordination of Sean McConathy, Trinity, Fort Worth
May 23: First Call Pastors check-in, Zoom
May 28: Good Shepherd, Irving
Jun. 1: Transitional Pastors monthly meeting, Zoom
Jun. 2-4: Family event
Jun. 13-14: First Call Pastors retreat, Location TBD
May 15-19: Mission Developers one-on-one meetings
May 21: St Matthew’s, Fort Worth
May 23: Region 9 Boundaries Basic Planning training
May 25: Spanish Coaching
May 30: Quarterly Ministry Review, First Sagrada Familia, Garland
Jun. 1-Aug. 31: On Sabbatical
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:
- May 17: Courageous Leadership, Heather Lanier – Questioning Our Assumptions, Zoom
- May 23: First Call Pastors Check-in, Zoom
- May 24: Courageous Leadership, Anna Gordy – Neurodivergent Spectrum, Zoom
- May 25: Cultivating Compassion Session 5: The Righteous Mind, Online
- May 31: Courageous Leadership, Jill Beverlin & Jason O’Neill – Stories from the Veil, Zoom
- Jun. 1: Transitional Pastors monthly meeting, Zoom
- Jun. 7: Courageous Leadership, Coaching – Choose Your Own Adventure (breakout rooms by topic), Zoom
- Jun. 10: Public Witness Team meeting, Hybrid
- Jun. 14: Courageous Leadership, Tammy Devine & Dwight DuBois – Life of Faith, Zoom
- Jun. 21: Courageous Leadership, Speaker(s) and Topic TBA, Zoom
- Jun. 22: Cultivating Compassion Session 6: Practice – Critical Race Theory, Online
- Jun. 27: First Call Pastors Check-in, Zoom
- Jun. 28: Courageous Leadership, Speaker(s) and Topic TBA, 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 editions of our weekly news.