This reflection was shared by NT-NL Voting Member Elaine Welty (Calvary-San Angelo)…
I attended my first Churchwide assembly last week in Columbus, OH. We conducted much business of the church, passed many memorials and resolutions, ate wonderful food, and participated in glorious worship, but you can read about all that in multiple reports posted on the ELCA website. What I want to bring home to my congregation is the sense of wonder, vision, and purpose of our denomination. I am so proud to be a part of what God is doing in our church.
- The ELCA has set a goal to share the story of Jesus and the ELCA with one million new, young, and diverse people as we grow the church together by activating each of us so that more people know the way of Jesus and discover community, justice, and love. Because of the pandemic and all the upheaval in the world, we have been forced out of our comfort zone and into uncharted waters. I don’t care if I am pushing 80, I want to be part of the new thing God is doing! How about you?
This is what God says,
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert.”
Isaiah 43:18-19 the Message
- In the short history of our denomination, we have made historic moves at inclusion and diversity. Did you know that we Lutherans speak 35 different languages? One of the most beautiful parts of the worship was hearing 800 people praying the Lord’s Prayer in each’s mother tongue! We wore red on Wednesday to recognize Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and we wore black on Thursday to support the UN’s campaign to stop Domestic and Sexual Violence. Being a person of color, disabled, of different sexual orientation, or a woman does not disqualify anyone from ordination to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament. One worship service was conducted by Wazhazhe, Oglala, Osage, and Winyan Wakan tribal clergy complete with drums, flute, Native singing, and the gospel in Native language. Our denomination stands for the good news that “God so loved the world.”
We are anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit following closing worship.
We remember our baptism by sprinkling water over the congregation.
We receive the body and the blood.
Worship assistant distributing sacred sage smoke among the congregation.
Deacon Colleen Bernu; Ojibwe minister to reservations in North Eastern Minnesota. Meeting Deacon Colleen was special because I have visited one of the reservations in her synod, Grand Portage.
We are gathered at this assembly on the original and ancestral homelands of the Shawnee, Miami, and Kaskaskia peoples. We give thanks for their presence here since time immemorial. We also wish to recognize and honor all our Indigenous siblings who have and continue to call this land their home. Let us remember the Indigenous peoples and tribal nations who were the first to love, pray, grow, celebrate, cry, drum, dance and sing upon these lands.
Indigenous tribes in San Angelo are Kiowa and Comanche.
Indigenous tribes in Ft Worth are Caddo, Hainais, Anadarko, Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Waco, and Kickapoo.
- Not only are we reaching out to the world and including “whosoever,” as a denomination we are confessing our sin and actively working to make things right. Unlike common “nonguilty” apologies issued by public figures, Bishop Eaton sincerely apologized and asked forgiveness on behalf of the entire body for a shameful racist event that occurred last year. We have repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery and repented for stolen land and forced boarding schools; We have confessed our sin in slavery and White Supremacy; We have confessed our sin of abuse of the earth and our God given resources; We have pledged to be an Anti-racist church; We have welcomed refugees throughout our history and continue to receive those fleeing for their lives in the wake of war, natural disaster, or economic collapse.
Each ribbon represents a prayer or lament for those Jesus loves.
We are not taking on the sin of the world. Jesus already did that. But we are committing to live out our faith in word and deed.
Grace and peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ,
Attendees from NT-NL:
Alma Cruz-Medellin, Emmanuel, Dallas
Pr. Nick Billardello, Abiding Grace, Southlake
Pr. Kelsey Fitting-Snyder, St. Matthew, Waco
Bishop Erik Gronberg
Pr. Austin Nickel, First, Waco
SAWL Sean McConathy, Trinity, Lockney
Lupita Escamilla, Secretary, Latino Ministry Association ELCA, Emmanuel, Dallas
Elaine Welty, Calvary, San Angelo