Photograph by Julie Fletcher
In his report to the Churchwide Assembly, Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson urged members to let the Spirit continue to shape the ELCA so chapters would be added to the book of Acts.
“It is more than a prayerful longing of a bishop’s heart,” he said. “It is Jesus’ promise.”
Hanson called the church to be attentive to God’s future and the ways in which the Spirit’s power renews human lives and communities.
With the help of photos and videos on the screen in front of the assembly, Hanson gave examples from his 12 years of witnessing the Spirit’s power in the ELCA and among global and ecumenical partners. He cited the energy and ministries of youth and young adults, and called for more lay theological education and year-round stewardship.
Hanson referenced the tension and fallout following the 2009 sexuality decisions and economic plunge, praising bishops and synods, Church Council members and churchwide staff for weathering the storm and focusing on continued mission.
As new chapters are added to the book of Acts, “Does it matter that we show up as Lutherans?” Hanson asked. Yes, he said, but in doing so he called for gospel fluency, citing the reaffirmation of the Book of Faith initiative to study the Scriptures.
Hanson told members to continue to witness to others, especially neighbors awaiting the good news: “We have something to say to people who are searching for the good life. It is the story of a gracious God who calls us by name … gathers us into the community of faith … and sends us forth … to love and serve the neighbor … and God’s creation.”
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© 2015 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers