A joyous and bittersweet weekend for the office of bishop in NT-NL Synod, ELCA. Friday we released the new position description for the newly visioned director of the Briarwood Center for Leadership. This new position will help us fulfill the vision of Briarwood as a center for lifelong leader development for the church and God’s world. It is an exciting and challenging vision, but now is the time to fulfill it.
Saturday we said goodbye to a dear saint of Christ’s church and servant leader in NT-NL. Doug Perrin served as facilities coordinator for three decades of assemblies and also was a strong and key leader at Trinity, Fort Worth. I was honored to bring greetings and thanks to the people of Trinity on behalf of our church. This loss was also very personal as Doug was council president when Kendra and I were called to Trinity and was instrumental in shepherding the community in difficult times. His wife Linda and family are in our prayers and we are both grateful for the promises of baptism Doug has claimed and yet grieving our loss. I was honored to be asked to bring remarks and gratitude from the synod office and the office of bishop. Doug Perrin Funeral Letter October 2018
After the funeral I headed west and north the 310 miles from Fort Worth to Lockney. The congregation of Trinity has been planted amongst the cotton fields of the Llano Estacado for 107 years. They are being faithfully served by interim pastor Eric Petty who is working with them to prepare for the future. The work of being present with this congregation is essential to helping them know that we care about our congregations across our territory and that we are working together. Prior to their previous pastor the congregation went almost a decade without a called pastor so the anxiety is high there about how we will be able to work with them. Despite this history however, I was pleased to see they proudly display their mission support thank you and that they gave generously as a proportion of their budget in 2017. Mission support is an essential part of our life together.
While a small parish of the 45 in worship 9 were children under 10. The average age of the worshippers was about 30 and they have strong young lay leaders. The challenge is they are 60 miles from the closest ELCA parish in a farming community facing the population realities of all of rural America. Despite this they are positive and active in their work hosting Vacation bible school, a fall fest for the community, and Sunday school (which I got to visit) each week. On a Sunday when we read Jesus’ admonition of letting the children come to him it was certainly inspiring. Please pray for a leader for this community to emerge.