Here is a mystery: Our God is One God who has been divinely revealed to us in three persons, each distinct with its own role and unique identity. There is no conflict. Here is not a mystery: Our denomination is one church that has been organized by imperfect humans into three distinct aspects, each with an agenda. There is conflict.
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A growing number of people believe there’s a disconnect among the ELCA’s three expressions: the congregations, synods and churchwide offices. Indeed some people in the pews don’t understand they’re part of a wider church. Recently I saw a wonderful example of the ELCA theme, “God’s work. Our hands.”
In January, Southeastern Iowa Synod staff invited Joe Young, ELCA director for community development services, to visit programs supported by local Lutheran congregations.
In 2007 the ELCA World Hunger Program awarded $913,300 in 360 grants to U.S. churches and organizations to provide services for people who are hungry or living in poverty. This process connects congregations to the wider church. The synod’s invitation brought the three expressions together in a full circle, and our travels took us to eight different locations in two days.
The experience was invaluable for me. I was proud to be an ELCA member and see all the good work that is done, side by side.
Our experience is a great model to show how the wider church can work together in all three expressions. Is there a disconnect? Perhaps. But I also believe there are ways we can all work together to connect and achieve even greater accomplishments. “Be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Philippians 2:2).
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