Message from Bishop Gronberg
Dear Partners in Mission:
September has flown by with many encouraging things across our church and synod. Our “re-gathering” celebration on September 11th was a wonderful time of fellowship and communal support. Communities across our synod have engaged the LEAD Journey and Leadership for Faithful Innovation. On Sunday Sept. 26th, the people of Mt. Olive, Dallas celebrated their 73rd anniversary joined by companions from Christ and Emanuel, also in Dallas. Along with this, progress continues at Briarwood repairing the storm damage delayed by insurance negotiations and a new series of online Church Council training sessions was announced for the fall.
All of this is incredibly encouraging. Ministry is happening, the Holy Spirit is moving amongst us, and you, the people of NT-NL, are working together with God to proclaim the gospel and serve your neighbors. Yet in conversation with you and leaders around the country, another reality is setting in. Despite all the work, effort, and time spent, we are not going to get back to what we had in 2019. The experiences of this pandemic, the divisions in our society that have long existed but been magnified in this time, our experience of what it means to “go to church,” have changed us for good. There is no going back.
This reality, that we cannot go back, can be hard for us to accept. Just this past Sunday our lectionary brought us the story of God’s people clamoring for the fish and garlic of Egypt (Numbers 11). And a worn out Moses (“a burnt out Moses” as one of our NT-NL pastors titled their sermon) throws up his hands to God. He is done, he is tired, and ready to quit, even to die. But God wasn’t done with Moses or these people. Instead, God calls Moses and reminds him he doesn’t do this work alone and the spirit is given to new leaders to continue the work. We, too, are called to be reminded we don’t do this work alone and that we have much we can learn and apply from this time if we do so together. So I again invite you to register for our 2021 Leadership Convocation. We will in this time think about what we have learned and how we have reacted in this time. To gain tools for applying and ensuring we don’t waste this disruptive opportunity to meet new people, engage the world in new ways, and be reminded it is God’s spirit that leads us forward. And in the spirit of the 70 it is open to all, lay and rostered, online or in-person, who desire to engage.
I pray you have a blessed week, #InMissionTogether,
ELCA Stories of Faith in Action 2021-2022
We are pleased to share with you the latest issue of Stories of Faith in Action, filled with inspiring stories from this past year. Consider this insight from “Many Ways to Be Connected”: “The pandemic was a stark illustration of the fact that the church is not a building,” said Sandra Rudd, pastor of Sitka (Alaska) Lutheran Church. “A lot of people say that, but we didn’t fully know it until we didn’t have a building to use. We learned that there are many ways to be connected as the church.” PDF link
Stories of Faith in Action connects us as church and illustrates how, through your generosity, God is at work across the ELCA. It highlights how a portion of your offering, called Mission Support, advances the ministry of our church, helping the ELCA nurture Christian community, raise up leaders, serve our neighbors and strive for justice. Most importantly, it’s one way to thank you for your faithful generosity to your congregation, your synod and the churchwide organization — by showing your offering at work. Dive into the latest issue, which is now available in its digital edition and includes:
- A special message from ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.
- Nine inspiring stories from around the country and the world.
- Your 2020 financial report on Mission Support — the portion of your offering your congregation shares with your synod, and your synod shares with the churchwide organization.
- A story-based devotional for use at Bible studies or committee meetings.
Additionally, you can visit ELCA.org/SOFIA today to download additional resources related to this publication, including a high resolution PDF for printing.
In closing, we prayerfully release this issue of Stories of Faith in Action to you as a sign of our appreciation. May it give you hope, inspire new ministry and remind you of your connectedness as a beloved member of this church. We are grateful for the story God is writing in our hearts as we help more people know the way of Jesus and discover community, justice and love.
We are the body of Christ | Somos el cuerpo de Cristo
One body: Reflecting on the early church, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton writes: “They were one body. We are one body. We are the body of Christ.” Despite cultural and political differences, she reminds us that we can’t dissolve this bond. Read her September column for Living Lutheran in English (We are the body of Christ) o en español (Somos el cuerpo de Cristo).
Featured Resources for September
Did you know that ELCA Coaching hosted over 60 online gatherings for leaders across the Church between March 2020 and April 2021? The informing question for each gathering: “How are we called to be church in this time?” From a range of topics and including a number of presenters from NT-NL, these weekly gatherings encouraged leaders to listen and learn and walk away with an action step. You can find the recordings (and supporting documents / links) here: https://www.elcacoaching.org/podcasts/media/series/being-church.
This week’s featured recording: Custodians of the Gospel: A Public Faith (Rev. George Mason, Wilshire Baptist, Dallas, TX)
Recent Blog Posts
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. Until we can assure everyone in attendance at a meeting are vaccinated, in order to protect those gathered, the synod staff will continue to wear masks unless preaching or presiding and sufficient social distancing can be provided.
Sep. 28: Churchwide Strategy Leadership Team, Online
Sep. 29-Oct. 2: Conference of Bishops, Online
Oct. 3: St. Paul, Crawford, 100th anniversary
Oct. 17: Immanuel, Killeen
Oct. 18-20: Leadership Convo (Briarwood and Online)
Oct. 24: PLMA and SSTE Graduation (@ Santa Maria, Irving)
Sep. 27-30: Tri-synodical First Call Pastors retreat, Zoom
Oct. 3: Advent, Arlington
Oct. 6-7: Continuing education “Leadership Edge” online training
Oct. 14-20: Vacation
Oct. 31: Walnut Hill, Farmers Branch
Oct. 18-20: Leadership Convo (Briarwood and Online)
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:
- Sep. 28: White Supremacy & Racism: Facing Reality, Taking Responsibility – Susannah Heschel, “The Slippery Yet Tenacious Nature of Racism,” Zoom
- Oct. 7: Transitional (Interim) Pastors monthly meeting, Zoom
- Oct. 9: Public Witness Team meeting, Zoom
- Oct. 12: White Supremacy & Racism: Facing Reality, Taking Responsibility – Cornel West, “A Genealogy of Modern Racism,” Zoom
- Oct. 16: Parish Lay Ministry Academy, Fall 2021, Course 2, Zoom
- Oct. 16: MEF Seeds That Change, Online
- Oct. 18-20: NT-NL Leadership Convocation, Briarwood and Online
- Oct. 23: NT-NL WELCA Virtual Convention, Online
- Nov. 4: Transitional (Interim) Pastors monthly meeting, Zoom
- Nov. 13: Public Witness Team meeting, Zoom
- Nov. 20: Parish Lay Ministry Academy, Fall 2021, Course 3, 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.