A bit groggy from “springing forward” (thank goodness this doesn’t happen on Easter anymore) the wind blew me northeast from Fort Worth this morning to the quickly growing areas north of Dallas for the dedication of an expansion at Rejoice, Frisco.
Frisco and it’s surrounding areas really aren’t suburbs anymore as they are larger than many major cities. From just 6,000 in population in 1990 Frisco now is home to over 170,000 of which 30% are estimated to be of sub-continent Indian origin. As such the fact that Rejoice shares a parking lot relationship with the largest Hindu temple in North Texas and Cricket players were at it fast and furious on the fields across the street should be of no surprise.
Rejoice, Frisco is looking to the future with its expansion. Preparing to welcome those moving to the area as well as providing hospitality. Hospitality is a key word here. Pastor Neil White has adopted a practice of standing outside the doors of the church on Sunday morning to greet those passing by and coming for worship.
Yet service is also important. They have a vibrant puppet ministry and connect ecumenically and also in interfaith ways with Pastor White leading the way. As with almost every NTNL congregation I visit there is a feeding ministry supported. Even in growing and seemingly affluent areas hunger is a reality. It was a joy to be with them and I am deeply hopeful for their future ministry.
On Saturday morning I spent time with our first NT-NL anti-racism education event held at Shepherd of Life, Arlington. The 2016 Churchwide assembly made these conversations and trainings an expectation. To confront the realities of institutional and systemic racism is part of our calling as a church. I was so very heartened that of the almost 50 participants the majority were lay people (although 13 clergy attended) and people of color made up a significant percentage. Hearing the stories of our sisters and brothers first hand is a critical part of this work. We will continue to engage this work of confronting racism, listening deeply, and I also hope to include more of our Latinx leaders as well.
Finally on Saturday afternoon I had the rare privilege of addressing the Umoja International Outreach church conference held at King of Glory, Dallas. We currently have two Synodically Authorized Worshipping Communities (SAWC) led by individuals connected to Umoja, both of whom are in candidacy. This Swahili speaking ministry crosses ecumenical barriers and focuses on connecting and providing unity for those coming to this country primarily from Tanzania and Kenya. It was an honor to address this event and I am so grateful to King of Glory, Dallas and King of Glory, Fort Worth for hosting these ministries. The Lutheran confessional witness is growing in leaps and bounds in Tanzania and the Southern Hemisphere. There is much we can learn from and grow with these sisters and brothers. To them I said “Asante Sana.”
A busy weekend. Clocked in at 280 miles without ever leaving the Metroplex. Spring break is upon us, some time with the kiddos but then down to St. Paul, Shive in central Texas on Wednesday for a Lenten meal and service in anticipation of their closing service on Easter Sunday.
NT-NL Synod, ELCA is a diverse, scattered, yet faithful synod filled with disciples of Jesus Christ. It is an honor to serve as bishop. #NTNL #RejoiceFrisco #ShepherdofLifeArlington #UmojaDallasFortWorth #InMissionTogether