We Are Church. This is the theme that the Churchwide Assembly gathered under last week as members of each of the 65 synods of the ELCA gathered together in Milwaukee. I was privileged to serve this amazing group of people throughout the week as a volunteer with the worship staff. My primary task was to work in the vestry, where I made sure the 75 communion ministers, the principals and any other people participating in worship were appropriately garbed. That came out to somewhere between 600 and 700 people fitted for albs over the course of the week! That was a lot of people, and I loved every minute of it. It was such a blessing to see different segments of our church gathered together in one room: our bishops, deacons, youth, female clergy, chaplains, voting members, they all came through the vestry.
We Are Church. What amazed me most throughout the week was how we all lived out our theme. Getting fitted for an alb and being “trained” on how to do your task isn’t always the most exciting task, and yet each person who came into the vestry was kind and thoughtful, even on Saturday, our last day together. I was amazed at our voting members, who I believe were the best of us, who remained present and focused throughout the week. It wasn’t an easy week. There were many things to discuss and to decide, and many things were difficult conversations. And yet, each voting member gave of themselves and remained in the conversation, faithfully executing their duties as voting members.
We Are Church. You may have heard a few things about what was discussed, it made national news. I have never been more proud of my church than I was this week. As you all know, I believe that our faith informs and directs how we are in the world. I believe that the church must, to remain faithful, willingly and intentionally engage in tough conversations around the issues of the day. That is what our church did, together. Our voting members talked about every topic we hear in the news right now and crafted together responses that reflect our deeply held theological beliefs. Not that there was perfect agreement, but we once again showed the world that it is possible to live together, to love each other, to be church together, even when we don’t agree. Our church talked about immigration, gun violence, health care, LGBTQIA+ rights, racism and women’s rights along side the usual topics of social statements and constitutional changes and language we use for the ways we structure ourselves. The important alongside the mundane, all relevant to what you and I do each day in our community. I encourage you to read for yourselves the actions taken by going to elca.org
We Are Church. Messy, beautiful, faithful people walking together for the sake of the world. Sometimes we are incredibly good at it, sometimes we get it wrong, but we always live in God’s grace. I look forward to talking with you all about the actions taken and what they mean for our life together as we continue to explore what it means to be church, together.