Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
We Lutherans tend to get uncomfortable when urged or, even worse, compelled, to do something. Yet, there it is from the pen of Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: the love of Christ urges on – compels – those who are convinced that Christ has died for all.
Those who bear the cruciform mark of God’s claim and call are compelled by the centrifugal force of God’s Spirit into the world as the body of Christ to be broken and poured out for the life of the world. The deep, abiding, forgiving, renewing, life-giving love that we know in the crucified and risen Christ urges us on to share that same love in word and deed in every moment of every day. This cross-formed living and proclaiming in the everyday world – not filling pews, not preserving church structures, not getting our way, not any other compelling agenda that we are tempted to follow – this love of Christ is what urges us on toward the promises of peace, justice, healing, and hope that ring in our ears and sing from our lips every time we are gathered by the Spirit for worship.
Our mission, vision, core values, and operating principles offer insight into what it looks like for us to live together as Christ’s ambassadors in the mission territory we sometimes refer to as the Indiana-Kentucky Synod. Rooted in scripture, centered in Christ crucified and risen, and discussed, affirmed and embodied by various members of this mission territory since the year 2000 these commitments are still vital and relevant for us as we move out into the ever and swiftly changing landscape of our corporate and individual lives today. In some ways, they point toward answers to three key questions for every mission center and missionary:
- What is our primary call (mission)?
- What central commitments guide our relationships, decision-making and behavior as we work together toward that call (core values/operating principles)?
- What will it look like when we faithfully engage the mission and embody the commitments (vision)?
Of course, these answwers are not the center for us. The center is Jesus Christ crucified and risen for the life of the world. This mission, set of core values and vision simply point us toward Jesus and draw us into prayerful, Word-inspired, communally discerned mission as Christ’s ambassadors. In that role, they call us to meet at the foot of the cross. There, on our knees before God and before one another, we gaze on the cruciform gift of what God has wrought for us and for the world. All of our disagreements, our confusion, our certainties, our need to be right and our fear that we’re wrong, along with our persistent tendencies to run after other gods are stripped from us again and again and again. And there, at the foot of the cross, we hear and know the depth and persistence of God’s forgiveness in Christ as our gaze is drawn toward the tomb, empty and overshadowed by the new life rising just outside its door and in the midst of our days.
This is the time, sisters and brothers, for us as mission centers and embassies, as ambassadors urged on by the love of Christ, to repent of the ways we have been lured and compelled by other missions, to receive forgiveness and renewal, and to be moved together again as the body of Christ for the life of the world into the mission territory of Indiana and Kentucky and far beyond. May the shared commitments offered here guide us in that way!
Peace be with you,
The Rev. Dr. William O. Gafkjen, Bishop
Empower, equip and encourage the people of God to make Christ known
Every person a Missionary
Every pastor a Mission Director
Every Congregation, Conference and Ministry a Mission Center.
OUR CORE VALUES:
Commitment and Faithfulness
OUR OPERATING PRINCIPLES:
1. Christ centered:
We pray together to determine God’s will for us.
2. Mission focused:
Everything we do contributes to the mission of the church.
3. Ministry focused:
God has gifted each person for ministry.
4. Committed to collaboration:
Working together for the good of all and for mission.
5. Open to taking risks:
We encourage ourselves and each other to try new things.
6. Committed to excellence:
What we are called to do we do well.
7. People focused:
We respond to others with care and compassion.
8. Open to resources:
We want to use all the gifts God sends us.
9. Sharing decisions:
We use each person’s knowledge/wisdom/experience.
10. Sharing accountability:
We are accountable to God, each other and the Wider Church.