The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Making space

“Making space” is a common expression in Spanish. Talk to anyone in the Latin American church, and you’ll hear how people and ministries are working to make a space for women’s rights, for peace or for dialogue and dissent.

“Making space” sounds odd to North Americans. When something matters to us, we make time for it. Make space? Sure—for our stuff.

But maybe it’s time for us to start making space. My congregation celebrates its centennial this year. Its space hasn’t changed in 100 years. Convincing members to make space for something new is—well, let’s just say it’s hard work.

That’s why I’m deeply grateful to be part of the team that produces the ELCA Global Mission Events. In collaboration with local planning committees, it’s always our job to make space for what’s new in God’s global church.

Over the last year, the Fargo, N.D., team wrestled with how best to use the FargoDome. This endlessly versatile space can be a football field, a rodeo ring or a theater. We had to decide how and where to set up the stage, hang the lights and arrange seating.

At heart, these were questions of welcome: How could we create a space of encounter and encouragement where Lutherans from Laos and Tanzania could share stories and witness with Lutherans from North and South Dakota?

I’m glad to report that we did it. For four days in July, the FargoDome and North Dakota State University became a crossroads for global worship and dialogue, where GME participants tasted the good gifts of God’s global church. Some of those gifts were easy to accept, like belting out a song in Spanish. Others were harder to accept—like hearing firsthand how our country’s policies may be tightening the noose around another economy.

The Fargo GME is over, and the FargoDome is ramping up for preseason NDSU football. But I know that while time has moved on, the space created by the GME endures: the space to challenge ourselves to move beyond familiar, limiting ways of being church and embrace a larger identity of what it means to be Lutheran in our world.


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February issue


Embracing diversity