March 15-22 has been an interesting week of new learning, adapting, and finding ways to be the church in the time of #covid_19. As restrictions on gatherings became ever tighter our faithful NT-NL Synod, ELCA leaders continued to find ways to reach and connect. On Tuesday 75 of our leaders gathered on a zoom call with me from Briarwood Retreat Center/Briarwood Leadership Center. This would be the NT-NL synod staffs last day in the office as I sent them home to work virtually. It was a shift but for many we enjoyed new office mates and opportunities to connect in other ways.
Our first Thursday morning 10am prayer time was attended by 40 leaders, lay and ordained, from across NT-NL. We were reminded of the power of God’s word to bring into action life through corporate confession of sins. The word proclaimed, “In the name of +Jesus Christ your sins are forgiven” moves across electronic means to bring into truth that reality.
Sunday morning now I had the joy of worshipping with Ascension, Garland as we together on zoom watched the sermon from Shepherd of Life Lutheran Church and shared time of prayer. We were also joined by Rev. Mark Olsen from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Fund for Leaders to celebrate Ascension’s first $100,000 gift to establish the Ascension Fund for Leaders scholarship. It was especially meaningful that NT-NL candidate and the first Ascension Fund for Leaders scholar Jonathan Lys gave the children’s message portion of the video.
Then we were blessed to announce a second $100,000 gift which will go into the NT-NL Fund for Leaders account allowing the synod staff even more opportunity to share funds with our candidates here in NT-NL. The generosity of this community as they journey towards ending their word and sacrament ministry is inspiring.
My Facebook and email wall has been full this morning of folks worshipping in many ways. St. John in Coryell City had drive-in worship and across NT-NL congregations found ways to share their worship both with their congregations and with other congregations who don’t have the capacity for life streaming. Much information is on our website regarding how to connect virtually with members at https://www.ntnl.org/resources/covid-19.
Finally this Sunday morning we give great thanks to God and to the faithful staff of ELCA Global Mission who got one of our Young Adults in Global Mission – ELCA home from Dakar, Senegal last night. Sarah Weaver is a former Briarwood staff member, a member at Faith Lutheran Church in Flower Mound and we are so glad she is home. We look forward to hearing her stories after she rests a bit and of course goes through 14 day quarantine.
We are leading in uncharted waters but our communities respond. I encourage you all to be generous with your congregational ministries and with other social service organizations in this time. While many panic and fear we know our God has claimed us and sends us forth into mission to serve our neighbor. God’s blessing to you all and happy Sunday! #NTNL #BWTX #InMissionTogether