For a parish pastor, it’s always a challenge to connect the congregation to the synod and the larger church (July, "Connections up and down the church"). Thanks for giving visibility to this. One of the best ways to nurture the connection is through storytelling. As an ELCA hunger leader I found the story “Be it ever so humble” (also July) an effective way of connecting our congregational world hunger efforts to the work of the broader ELCA and the Lutheran World Federation. The ELCA churchwide organization, its synods and its congregations are making a difference—one life at a time.
Henry ZornNo disconnect nowAfter our pastor took ill and had to leave the state for immediate treatment during this year’s Holy Week, our bishop and his staff stepped up to offer support for our congregation. They also presided over our Easter services on arguably the most hectic religious week of the year. Support continues today while our pastor fights his way back to health. If there was any question of disconnect in the minds of our congregation’s members before, there is none now.
John R. O’BryanMeet halfwayIn “Connections up and down the church” (July) no fewer than four bishops or synod staff members told us that pastors are “the main link the congregation has with the work of the larger church.” I didn’t hear one of them naming as a priority nurturing relationships with synod pastors. I’m willing to go more than halfway in connecting with the synod and churchwide. But I’m also well aware that after putting out fires in the synod and lifting up items on the churchwide agenda, the synod office has little time or energy for the concerns of the average pastor. If pastors are the vital link, why aren’t synod offices investing more energy in this area?
New Baltimore, Mich.
Steve SathreMove past fixationsFormer bishop Paull E. Spring (August, "My View: Reforming the ELCA") wrote about Lutheran CORE’s concern for the interpretation of the Bible as God’s word of law and gospel. He asked, “Who’s in charge of the church?” The answer is found in the last line; that is, Christ. Spring worries about the ELCA’s membership decline. The generation coming along now has a different viewpoint on homosexuality. The church will alienate them as well as gays and lesbians if it continues to call an immoral lifestyle what is for many not a choice but a physical predisposition. I wish the church could move past its fixation about sexual ethics and address issues of far greater importance to the human family: global food shortages, war in Iraq (and maybe Iran next), troubles in the Mideast, global warming, interfaith relations and the chasm between the rich and the poor.
Edward R. SchreiberNameless and facelessOne ELCA reform movement said it feels pressured to affirm a gay and lesbian “lifestyle” that’s “unbiblical.” This begs the question: Why do its members accept other variance from Scripture such as divorce? Interestingly, too, movements such as this don’t use the term “lifestyle” to describe their own marriages or attractions. They accurately characterize those as God-given human relationships. With one word (lifestyle) they’ve substituted flesh-and-blood Lutheran believers with a nonhuman word, so it’s a word we’re rejecting and not a human. Such objectification makes discrimination easier. It’s easier to reject people if we don’t give them a name or look them in the face. When baptized, confirmed Lutherans refuse to be reconciled with or embrace as equal other baptized, confirmed brothers and sisters in Christ in their own church family, it’s not a social issue. It’s a serious spiritual issue that cuts into the hearts of people who were once told they’ve been marked with the sign of the cross. Now they’re not so sure. But Stephen Marsh (August, "Our Faith: The Crucifixion") says John 3:16 tells us that in the crucifixion God shed his blood to give Jesus to all of humanity—“not just a portion of it.”
Patricia UelandEffects of liturgyThanks to Mark Galli for succinctly putting into words why I attend a weekly worship service (August, "A truly political liturgy"). His words, “If not for worship, our vision of a good and just world would slowly fade,” were especially poignant. This enables us to go into the world with a better perspective, empowering us to help others.
San Diego, Calif.
Jan BevilacquaNew insight“It really is the perfect prayer” (July) gave me new insight. It’s taken me away from a personal prayer to one of community.
Wilma E. DeSoto
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