Message from Bishop Gronberg
Dear Partners in Mission:
With Halloween behind us, we are barreling quickly towards Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas. In the Metroplex, at least one radio station has already converted to an all Christmas music format. The desire for something to look forward to, some sense of normalcy, is deeply palpable. This is true in our congregations, as well as I have heard it last week and this as I meet with our conference pastors and deans. Fully eight months into this pandemic, the magnitude of the change, loss, and grief that we as a nation and world have experienced, and will continue to experience, grows. Added to that collective grief, we then have experienced the most polarizing national election in memory. An election that, as I said to our leaders last week, we will not know the full ramifications or outcomes of for some time to come. But what we do know is that our nation and our communities are deeply polarized.
This polarization has often been defined by simple maps that color states red or blue based on the political party that won the popular vote. While this is interesting data, it increases polarization by identifying an entire state’s population as “red” or “blue.” However, as we know from our own lives and interactions, and our relationships within our congregations, that while the majority of a state may consistently or for a time vote for a particular party, that hardly represents the entire state’s population. As a result, “purple state” maps have been created by researchers to show more nuance and more accurately reflect the political will of the people in a state. A sample of these and some of the research behind them can be found here.
Why does this matter to us as church? And why would I, as bishop, spend time writing this and sharing this information with you today? Because the research showed that when maps like this, utilizing shades of purple rather than the red or blue, were shown to participants in studies, they tended to report that they perceived the country as less polarized. Less one sided, less antagonistic. When nuance was added to the map and stark differences disappeared, there was more room, space for the other. And we, as people of faith, are called to create space for the other. To recognize our neighbor and to listen deeply to their stories, to try to understand their perspective, rather than simply yelling ours all the louder.
This is a counter cultural move in a time of division, yet as people of faith, we see things differently. We are to look beyond partisan labels that would make that identity more important than our baptism. As Lutheran Christians, who proclaim Law and Gospel, we must recognize and repent of our own sin first, our own selfishness and inward focus. Then, trusting that only Christ can and has redeemed us, look to our neighbors needs and see them as God’s beloved creation to whom we have responsibility.
In this difficult time of division, I pray we can be people who see the world differently. With eyes of faith that trust that God is guiding us and that our security is found not in silver and gold but in the holy and precious blood of Christ. Christ who is our true identity, crucified and risen, and in whom we have faith by the power of the Holy Spirit. And having that faith, it is Christ who calls us to repentance where we have failed to treat our neighbors with justice and mercy. When we have been complicit in systems of oppression. Who challenges us to cross over borders and barriers for the sake of the gospel. To see our neighbor and ourselves, not in simple terms, but as God’s beloved nuanced, multi-shade, diverse, creation.
2020 Vine Deloria Jr. Theological Symposium
In 2013, the Annual American Indian and Alaska Native Symposium at LSTC was renamed in honor of Vine Deloria Jr., an alumnus of Augustana Seminary, Rock Island, Ill., a predecessor school of LSTC. The symposium has been held in November each year since it began over ten years ago. It has featured presentations, lectures, food and cultural activities. Past keynote speakers include Susan Kelly Power (Standing Rock Sioux), Rev. Dr. Gordon Straw (Brothertown Nation), Dr. Daniel Wildcat (Yuchi/Muskogee), and Prairie Rose Seminole (Three Affiliated Tribes of ND).
David Martinez (Akimel O’odham/Hia Ced O’odham/Mexican), author of Life of the Indigenous Mind: Vine Deloria Jr and the Birth of the Red Power Movement (University of Nebraska Press, 2019) is the keynote speaker for the first night of the Vine Deloria Jr. Theological Symposium on Nov. 17, 7 p.m. Central time.
Martinez, associate professor of American Indian Studies at Arizona State University, will discuss Vine Deloria Jr.’s historical significance and ongoing relevance to today’s Native American sovereignty movements with particular attention to his work at the intersection of environmental justice, tribal sovereignty, and tribal rights.
Register for Dr. Martinez’s keynote here: http://bit.ly/vinedeloriakeynote.
On Nov. 18, Elona Street-Stewart (Delaware Nanticoke), Synod Executive for the Synod of the Lakes and Prairies (PCUSA) will preach during worship at 11:15 a.m. Central time. She has been engaged for four decades in grass root and national advocacy on racial equity, Indian education, family empowerment and public policy. Register here for the Zoom link: http://bit.ly/vinedeloriaworship.
Also on Nov. 18, 7-8:30 p.m. Central time, panelists Dr. Juana Majel-Dixon (Pauma-Yuima Band of Luiseño Indians), Dallas Goldtooth (Mdewakanton Dakota & Dińe) and Dr. Kyle Whyte (Citizen Potawatomi Nation) will explore the legacy of Vine Deloria, Jr.’s activism and scholarship, particularly the relationship of people to land and the issues of sovereignty and eco-justice that are of enduring importance to Native communities throughout these lands. Register for the panel discussion to receive the Zoom link here: http://bit.ly/vinedeloriapanel.
Majel-Dixon teaches federal Indian law and U.S. policy at Palomar College and is a visiting professor at San Diego State University, Claremont Graduate University, and Cal State San Marcos. As a member of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) for nearly five decades, her work led to the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Tribal Law and Order Act in 2013, which established an Office of Tribal Justice within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Goldtooth is Keep It in the Ground Campaign Organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network. He was one of the outstanding Water Protectors at Standing Rock/Oceti Sakowin Camp fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Kyle Whyte is the George Willis Pack Professor of Environment and Justice at the School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan.
Vance Blackfox (Cherokee), founder and director of Other+Wise and creator and producer of the symposium, will serve as moderator of the sessions. Learn more at www.otherwise.red.
Featured Resources for November
“As the magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis is revealed, religious leaders—at every level, national to local—will be challenged to respond to the needs of their communities and society at large. The magnitude and scope of this disaster will fundamentally challenge American society, shaping the callings and responsibilities of all pastors, priests, imams, and rabbis….
My fellow faith leaders, the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis is expanding our vocation. We are called to look outward for the benefit not just of our own communities, but for the good of society itself as we seek to promote the flourishing of human communities. This developing tragedy is also a time of potentially tremendous remaking.
What do you perceive is needed in such a time as this?
What global and communal wisdom can we draw upon for responding to this axial moment?”
“…The US has not had any direct, long-term experience with national trauma and loss.
Societally minded leadership among persons of faith (lay, rostered, and ordained) will be necessary for helping persons and communities name the losses they have experienced, the grief they carry, and the resources already in their possession for rebuilding life on all levels. The skillsets of ‘societal chaplaincy’ can be of direct assistance….”
This session hosted by ELCA Coaching explored the concept of “societal chaplaincy” in order to provide tools for responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. This global crisis is producing layers of grief and trauma beyond what most people are anticipating. Religiously informed leaders have particular callings to respond not just to their defined communities, but to society as a whole, helping others name their grief while pointing to paths forward. The insights of social analysis, grief coaching, and chaplaincy each have contributions to make as we move forward together.
“…[Don Eisenhauer] named that COVID-19 is causing all of us to experience not just a public health crisis, but a ‘pandemic of grief.’ In that context, he warned us against cutting grief short. Loss and grief need to be named, worked with, lived with.
There are many reasons to cut grief short. We do not like to admit weakness and the feeling of being out of control. We are surrounded by people made uncomfortable by loss and grief, who would rather we put it away instead of working through a process.
Although religious systems are often at their best when staring death in the face, when they speak a word of hope and truth in a moment like this. But often, religious people are the absolute worst at accompanying people through the experience of death and other forms of loss….”
Recent Blog Posts
(https://www.ntnl.org/sunday-november-8-2020/ – published Nov. 8)
Where in the world is?
The bishop and staff have resumed limited in-person travel for special events or to tape or livestream worship. The staff will wear masks for all services and anytime they are near people, either inside or outside a facility. All synod business will continue to be conducted online.
- Nov. 14: Eric Saed Ordination at Shepherd King, Lubbock
- Nov. 15: Eric Saed Installation at Trinity, Clovis
- Nov. 10: Call committee orientation (via Zoom), Beautiful Savior, Amarillo
- Nov. 14: Eric Saed Ordination at Shepherd King, Lubbock
- Nov. 15: St. Martin, Littlefield, and St. Paul, Levelland
- (No visits planned this week)
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:
- Nov. 11: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders – Applying Improv Techniques to Lead with Confidence, Courage, and Connection with Rev. Mike Weaver, Zoom
- Nov. 12: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Nov. 14: PLMA, Fall 2020, Course 3, Online
- Nov. 14: Public Witness Team monthly meeting, Online
- Nov. 18: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders – Growing Young: Keychain Leadership with Rachel Alley and others, Zoom
- Nov. 19: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Nov. 25: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders – TBA with Jory Mickelson, Zoom
- Nov. 26: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Dec. 2: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders – The Sacred Work of Grief, Part 4: TBA with Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin, Zoom
- Dec. 3: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Dec. 3: Interim Pastors monthly meeting, Zoom
- Dec. 9: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders – TBA, Zoom
- Dec. 10: 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.