None Of Us Can Do This Alone

None Of Us Can Do This Alone

Last week I attended an event where the deacons and pastors in their first three years of ministry, from the five synods in ELCA Region 2 (Sierra Pacific, Southwest CA, Pacifica, Grand Canyon, and Rocky Mountain), gathered for learning and fellowship. We met at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks and the presenters were professors and staff from Cal Lutheran. We had conversation with the first call deacons and pastors about what they valued about this event, and overwhelmingly they spoke about the collegiality they experience. They talked about how they appreciate the educational programming, but the connections with their colleagues from around the wider church is something that is highly valued.

As I reflected on that conversation I noted that I, too, enjoy attending these events to connect with my colleagues from around the church. This time around I not only got to spend time with my colleagues who serve on synod staff, but folks at Cal Lutheran, and even some ELCA Churchwide staff. The companionship and fellowship are hugely important, but so is the opportunity to tell and hear stories – uplifting and frustrating – about how ministry is going in the various places we serve.

There is a lot of talk these days about the ‘bubbles’ in which we live – we listen to news that we agree with, the algorithms in our social media platforms feed us content and ads that they believe will appeal to us (and it’s scary how good they are at that!), we don’t engage in conversation with people we know (or think) will disagree with our position to avoid a fight. I wonder how much of our ministries are operating in bubbles as well.

How well do we really know the neighborhoods in which our congregations are planted? [I’m not just talking to the pastors here…] When is the last time you walked your church’s neighborhood and stopped in at stores, offices, fire houses and police stations? When did you last talk with people walking by your building? Do you know the names of people who lead and are active in the local churches that aren’t ELCA?…how about the synagogue, mosque, or temple?

None of us can do this alone! Yes, individually, we have our congregation, but as a congregation we also need collegiality and support. I wonder how you could imagine serving your neighborhood with your neighbors – those that are faith-based, and those that are not. But, in order to get there, you need to meet each other. How can you imagine getting out of your doors and engaging the people that live, work, play, and worship around you. Let us know! We’d love to hear your stories!

Katy Grindberg
Assistant to the Bishop

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