The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


On our two-way street of faith

International exchanges strengthen churches

From the beginning the ELCA Companion Synod Program has been about relationships — a two-way street, not a handout from the haves to the have-nots. Now some two decades later, the program connects the ELCA's 65 synods in more than 120 international companion relationships.

Tracy Mikes (right) of Grace Lutheran
Tracy Mikes (above) of Grace Lutheran Church, Conroe, Texas, serves communion to Carla Huarcaya at worship in Lima, Peru, in August 2009. The service was a highlight of the visit Mikes and others from the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod took to their companion, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Peru. Presiding at the service at San Juan Camino de Esperanza is Fran Schmidt, a Canadian missionary pastor.
"Early on the synods were encouraged not to share resources but rather to share prayer and faith," said Lanny D. Westphal, director for global formation of relationships with ELCA Global Mission. Of course, as those relationships developed, resources were shared, but "the depth of the involvement has grown dramatically," he said.

Lowell O. Erdahl, retired bishop of the St. Paul Area Synod , put it this way in a speech to a Lutheran Mission Conference in 2005: "Our recent visit in the Iringa Diocese (Tanzania) convinces me that our churches are ... in need of the vital witness of Christians from the mission fields ... that we are as much in need of their witness as they are of ours."

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