But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:1-2, 5-7
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:16-21
This is an excerpt of Bishop Gafkjen’s sermon for the opening worship of this year’s synod assembly. The full text and an audio recording of the sermon may be accessed at http://livingcommunion.blogspot.com.
Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. (I John 3:2; NRSV)
I sit at the desk in our study at home tending to the monthly routine of paying bills and otherwise organizing my family’s financial life. As I scan through the invoices and receipts, set up payments online, and write the relatively rare check, a short poem by the late Gerhard Frost pops into my mind. The poem is entitled “Autobiography”:
If you should ask me, “Who are you right now? Where are you? What road have you taken? What have you become?” I needn’t give you fifty pages, Or even five, or one. My check stubs are enough.
Speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. [Ephesians 4:15]
Across the church there is a good bit of talk these days about a “clergy shortage.” This is certainly understandable. Across the ELCA 28% of congregations are without a called pastor. As I have shared before, in this synod about 40% of our congregations are without a called pastor. As with other ELCA congregations, some of that 40% are being served by interim pastors or another form of temporary or transitional ministry. Nevertheless, it’s no wonder that the phrase “clergy shortage” slides so easily off our lips.
ELCA seminaries look to identify, nurture and sustain new leaders
CHICAGO (Feb. 22, 2018) – In partnership with Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s Leadership Initiative, the seven seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will launch a combined effort to encourage new candidates for ministry in the ELCA.
The program, “Do you want to change the world?,” is being promoted through a series of videos, the first of which will be released Feb. 22. The video addresses the current leadership shortage of the ELCA and the effort to seek more candidates for ministry.
Decreased seminary enrollment combined with a record number of ELCA rostered ministers who are retiring, has resulted in not enough ministers to fill the open calls or to provide creative leadership in this time of rapid change in our church and in the world. The ELCA seminaries have addressed this need by working independently and in collaboration to increase the number of candidates. According to the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Strandjord, director of ELCA seminaries, this has resulted in a modest increase in fall starts for Master of Divinity candidates in 2017.
Building on these efforts to invite and encourage future leaders, this program will help seminaries identify new candidates and provide resources that promote the vocation of public ministry, while providing marketing pieces for the good of the whole church.
The program is made possible by a grant from the Richard Hay Barkalow Charitable Seminary Fund of the inFaith Community Foundation.
On Saturday, February 10th, sixty young people from across Indiana and Kentucky, accompanied by adult youth ministry leaders, pastors, and deacons, gathered at Pilgrim Lutheran Church, Carmel, IN, for the third annual Bishop’s Youth Day. (Another forty who had registered were unable to attend because of weather.) Ranging in age from eighth grade to seniors in high school, this group of young disciples was energetic, engaged, and inspiring.