NT-NL Synodical Women’s Organization Election

At the SWO convention in October 2018, we will be electing new executive officers and board members.  All positions will be open for election or re-election.  At this time the president, treasurer, and at least one board member’s position will be vacated.  And there may be others.  But elections will be held for all positions on the board.  It is an honor to serve this organization as a member of the board.

Rank Order Process

Women of the ELCA – Past, Present and Future

Women of the ELCA – Past, Present and Future

Through the various stages of my life, my participation in Women of the ELCA has ebbed and flowed. I joined a circle and participated in making crafts for the fall bazaar when my children were young. In a time of flow as older participants stepped back, I moved into leadership roles. After becoming overcommitted, I stepped back to let others take the lead. This was a time of ebb.

The last fifteen months has once again been a time of flow. I had decided to learn more about our organization at the synodical level, so I attended the convention in Waco. I sent in my registration. I received a phone call asking that I consider a nomination to the SWO board. As I was the only one from my congregation attending the business meeting, I became the delegate. Before I knew it, I was at my first board meeting. 2017 was quite a learning experience.

I have met a number of amazing women who are excited about ministry in and through this thing we call W-ELCA. Actions taken and words spoken at the congregational, synodical and even church-wide levels have caused me to reflect on where we have been, where we are and what our future looks like.

Martin Luther shook up the world 500 years ago, and almost from the start of this thing we call the Lutheran church, there have been bold women of faith in ministry. At the fall retreat, we learned more about Katharina von Bora, better known as Katie, and the work she did at Luther’s side. Throughout the history of the church, women have been there, whether or not their exact roles have been recorded. Like Katie, they helped to provide welcoming and comfortable places for the men of the church to discuss, learn and teach. They supported and taught each other, raised the next generation in faith through their examples, and led the way in outreach ministry as teachers, nurses and missionaries.

Our past is full of strong women active in ministry. From the history page of Women of the ELCA website:

“Lutheran women in the United States have been gathering in mission since the 1800s, and we owe much to our foremothers who responded to God’s call, created a place and lived out a purpose when women had no voice in the church.”

When women were mostly homemakers, they would gather in home and churches for Bible study and ministry projects. Those who felt a special call to ministry but were excluded for the seminary and pulpit, directed their energy into leadership roles of the women’s organizations. They made quilts and kits, fed people, led studies and classes for women and raised money for community and global outreach.

Our present situation has come about over the last fifty or so years. The model of homemakers doing lay ministry, while it does still exist, is falling apart. More women have jobs and careers than don’t. More and more women answer the call to ministry through seminary and ordination since they have been welcomed to the pulpit. Their children are busy in multiple activities that require parents, usually moms, to be driving to multiple locations each afternoon, evening and weekend.  Ask a 30 something woman to come to a retreat for a whole weekend, and you won’t get much interest. They are too busy, too tired and too stressed. They don’t want another thing added to their schedule. As the average of our organization participants is beyond retirement age, what does the future look like for W-ELCA?

Looking to the future of this organization, I went to the next generation and asked questions. Specifically, I asked my 31- and 26-year old daughters. They watched my activity in the church as they grew up. It gave them an example of service, but their lives are different from mine. They are single with careers, where I was married and staying home with children. I asked them what the biggest hurdles are to their involvement. Their answer is scheduling. They want to be involved at church, and specifically W-ELCA, but they are having a difficult time finding church homes that offer Bible study, ministry, and fellowship opportunities that mesh with their work week. I asked about synodical events. They wanted more ministry work and less lectures. For example, if we have someone from Lutheran World Relief speak, we could build kits or tie quilts as well. Our activities at the retreat in 2015 are a good example as well.

Look at your church calendar. Are there circles that meet in the evenings? What about quilting or kit making on the weekends? I am aware of the catch-22 here. We can’t have a program that meets the needs of younger women without younger women, and we won’t get younger women involved without a program that meets their needs. While many of us raise money for community outreach, how often do we step off church grounds and help put those funds to work? I know I am guilty of just writing a check. My younger daughter pointed out that her generation wants to be actively involved, to do more than get together to talk and raise money. I don’t have the answer to what our future will be, but if we don’t make changes that get the next generation involved, there won’t be an organized Women of the ELCA for them to join.

Leslie Jenkins
First Lutheran, Longview, TX

10th Triennial :  ALL ANEW

“I AM ABOUT TO DO A NEW THING; NOW IT SPRINGS FORTH, DO YOU NOT PERCEIVE IT?  I WILL MAKE A WAY IN THE WILDERNESS AND RIVERS IN THE DESERT.”  Isaiah 43:19

As I was reflecting on the Triennial, I likened it to our youth going to Church Camp or the Youth Gathering.  I say that because in all these events, it’s like you’re in a bubble – away from daily demands and routines; you’re allowed to fully focus without all the worldly distractions coming at you from all directions!  You’re able to truly LISTEN – listen to others, to the Word, to the Presenters, to the Holy Spirit.  And then there’s also the ability to ponder and process it all in this special setting. For example, after one of my workshops, (The Practicing Life: Simple Acts, Sacred Living) I just felt the need to get away, to seize the moment and let it all soak in.  Sooo, I bought my favorite cappuccino,- white chocolate mocha with raspberry-  found a table outside the Convention Center and sat down to enjoy the delightful weather (79’) and let the experience penetrate my soul. It was a special time for me.

The Triennial is truly an experience that is hard to explain- put into words. The Workshops, Servant Events and Exhibits were excellent.  And Bishop Eaton- she is Awesome! We are so fortunate to have her as our Bishop at this time.  She speaks with such wisdom and strength and yet with compassion and kindness and firmness.  She is funny – very witty – and so real, so down to earth.  Praise God for this special leadership of the ELCA!

The Opening Worship prepared us for the days to come and the Closing Worship sent us out into the world feeling restored and challenged.   This quote from Angela Kwabeb caught my attention:  “God of the UNIVERSE blesses EVERYONE.  God cannot be God of the Universe if the seeds of His love don’t fall on everybody.”  GOD OF THE UNIVERSE!   It’s not just  me, or the Lutheran Church, or the United States that He blesses – we are just one of the many parts of God’s Universe.  We are ALL part of God’s Universe!

We were also reminded that ALL ANEW is not just a moment or event but a process.  And as I left Minneapolis, things did seem different as I looked at them All ANEW.

Ann Hanley
Board Member, NT-NL SWO

All About Thankofferings

As is the tradition at Trinity Lutheran Church in Sherman, the Women’s ThankOffering Worship Service was held on November 26th – always the Sunday following Thanksgiving.  It was not only an opportunity for the ladies to lead worship, but also share who they are as Women of the ELCA.

They are a busy group all year long – quilting, assembling baby kits and school kits, sponsoring a Bazaar and many other things – which included a $500 donation to the Katie Fund in honor of Sue Sappenfield, a $200 offering to the 10th Triennial Gathering, and supporting the five ladies from Trinity who attended the Triennial by paying half of their expenses (registration, air fare, and lodging).   A thank-you was extended to all the ladies who make all these things happen! It was also an opportunity to thank the congregation for the many ways it supports all their projects.

The service focused on ALL ANEW – the theme of the 10th Triennial Gathering which was held this past summer – and sharing experiences from the event.  A slide show from the Triennial played before the service and there was a display in the Fellowship Hall highlighting events.  Women of all ages – (middle school to retirees) shared their gifts and talents by participating in many different ways to make it a beautiful worship service – To God Be The Glory!  The music was amazing – enhancing the messages delivered.  We sang some wonderful songs including special music for communion – We Come to Your Feast.

The ladies who attended the Triennial were so moved by Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s sermon at the opening worship service, they wanted to share it with the congregation.  So the video of Bishop Eaton’s sermon was shown as part of the service.  It was a special opportunity for all to see her from the pulpit and hear her powerful message.

What a blessing to be part of Women of the ELCA and this Women’s ThankOffering Service! It was indeed a celebration of God’s Love and God’s Love in Action!

Ann Hanley

Trinity Lutheran Church, Sherman, TX

Triennial Gathering

ALL ANEW

 “I AM ABOUT TO DO A NEW THING; NOW IT SPRINGS FORTH, DO YOU NOT PERCEIVE IT?  I WILL MAKE A WAY IN THE WILDERNESS AND RIVERS IN THE DESERT.”  Isaiah 43:19

“Attending the Triennial Gathering was a God thing.  My initial thought was to attend with my mom, so she would go.  Being there among all those women was a wonderful rekindling of the Holy Spirit within me.  God put me right in the path of W-ELCA from our region at the First Attendee breakfast.  These gracious ladies invited me to lunch.  I instantly felt a kindred spirit with everyone at lunch and I feel blessed and look forward to beginning a W-ELCA unit at my home church.”  – Sara Kriesel-Hall

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As I was reflecting on the Triennial, I likened it to our youth going to Church Camp or the Youth Gathering.  I say that because in all these events, it’s like you’re in a bubble – away from daily demands and routines; you’re allowed to fully focus without all the worldly distractions coming at you from all directions!  You’re able to truly LISTEN – listen to others, to the Word, to the Presenters, to the Holy Spirit.  And then there’s also the ability to ponder and process it all in this special setting. For example, after one of my workshops, (The Practicing Life: Simple Acts, Sacred Living) I just felt the need to get away, to seize the moment and let it all soak in.  Sooo, I bought my favorite cappuccino,- white chocolate mocha with raspberry-  found a table outside the Convention Center and sat down to enjoy the delightful weather (79’) and let the experience penetrate my soul. It was a special time for me.

The Triennial is truly an experience that is hard to explain- put into words. The Workshops, Servant Events and Exhibits were excellent.  And Bishop Eaton- she is Awesome! We are so fortunate to have her as our Bishop at this time.  She speaks with such wisdom and strength and yet with compassion and kindness and firmness.  She is funny – very witty – and so real, so down to earth.  Praise God for this special leadership of the ELCA!

The Opening Worship prepared us for the days to come and the Closing Worship sent us out into the world feeling restored and challenged.   This quote from Angela Kwabeb caught my attention:  “God of the UNIVERSE blesses EVERYONE.  God cannot be God of the Universe if the seeds of His love don’t fall on everybody.”  GOD OF THE UNIVERSE!   It’s not just me, or the Lutheran Church, or the United States that He blesses – we are just one of the many parts of God’s Universe.  We are ALL part of God’s Universe!

We were also reminded that ALL ANEW is not just a moment or event but a process.  And as I left Minneapolis, things did seem different as I looked at them All ANEW.

Ann Hanley, Board Member, NT-NL SWO

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Unbelievable!!!…What a great time!!…The power of the heavenly spirit was so strong from all those women of our great nation and world could be felt the moment one walked into the convention hall…….. As a 70 year old woman and a first timer, I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to go….Thank-you all from the bottom of my heart…..Hopefully see more new faces in Phoenix ….

Marilyn Nelson—Rejoice Lutheran Church…Frisco, TX

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BY THE NUMBERS: Triennial 2017 

Nearly 3,400 participants attended the gathering, and more than 1,300 were first-timers.

$49,094.60 was raised in Thursday evening’s Thankoffering service.

404 participants ran in the Run, Walk and Roll, and 

$19,116 was raised for seed grants to support Women of the ELCA’s health initiative, Raising Up Healthy Women and Girls.

In-kind gifts included more than $19,000 in gift cards, more than 27,000 items of hygiene products, clothing, quilt kits, and Days for Girls kits. 

5,850 labyrinths were collected and given to gathering and convention participants. The remainder will be distributed to various ministries in the Twin Cities.

Nearly $64,000 was collected during Sunday’s service of Holy Communion. The offering is being shared among PV for Phebe (25 percent); Cherish All Children (25 percent); and Women of the ELCA (50 percent). (To give regularly to Women of the ELCA, enroll in our Faithful Friends program.)

97 people gave blood for a total of 81 good units. Each unit is separated into red cells, platelets and plasma, which could potentially help 243 people.

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Triennial 2020

Be thinking about being nominated as a voting member to the Triennial in Phoenix AZ in 2020.  We probably will be able to have three voting members – our president and two others who are members of our Synod.  (We now have 40 active units.  If we reach 50 active units, we will be able to have 4 voting members.) We will be voting on these voting members at our 2018 SWO Convention to be held next October.  We will be using the Rank Order Process to make the decisions.  There will be three tickets voted.  Ticket A will be used to elect the number of women of color or, whose primary language is other than English as set forth in the constitution.  Ticket B will be used to elect the number of first time voting members as set forth in the constitution; and Ticket C will be used to elect the remaining number of nominees needed to complete the delegation. I encourage you to begin thinking about serving as a Triennial voting member.  Next Spring when the nominating committee begins its work, please contact them and complete a nomination sheet.  No person can be nominated from the SWO Convention floor.  All nominations have to be on the ballot prepared by the nominating committee.  

Also, four officers and 17 members of the Executive Board will be elected at the Triennial.  If you are interested in being nominated to be an officer or a member of the executive board, please submit your application between July 30 and November 30 of 2019. I know this is a long time away, and hopefully our new SWO president will remind you.  But for now, I am giving you the info to keep while you ponder your decision.  Region 4 can have three members on the Executive Board, but only one from the NT-NL Synod.  You will be able to find up-to-date info on this on the Churchwide website in 2019. 

KATHARINA VON BORA LUTHER

KATHARINA VON BORA LUTHER

We cannot talk about the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation without telling Kate’s story. Martin Luther wrote to his spouse with affectionate humor:  “To my dear lady of the house, Katherine von Bora Luther, a preacher, beer brewer, gardener.”  Sometimes he addressed her as “Lord Katie” or my dear lady of the New Pig Market.”  Recalling the story of Adam and Eve, he often called Katherine “my rib.”

Katherine was born January 29, 1499 in Hirschfeld, near Meissen, Saxony a daughter of German nobility.  By the age of six she was sent to the Benedictine boarding school after her mother died and her father remarried.  Four years later at the age of ten Katherine entered the Cistercian nunnery Marienthron Convent which began her education and leading her on the path to becoming a nun.  At the age of 24 in April 1523 she left the convent because of her beliefs in the Reformation about which Martin Luther had been writing and talking.  On June 13, 1525 Katherine and Martin were married.  Six children were born to this union.  She became the “unseen partner” in the Lutherhaus.

Kate was a talented and knowledgeable wife, mother, and advocate for evangelical reforms.  Acquainted with tragedy and grief, she exhibited a deep spirituality in her private and family life as she encouraged her husband in times of desperation and doubt and provided for the numerous students and guests to Wittenberg and the parsonage.  She was “an extraordinary woman – a genuine servant whose faith and courage stand as an example today.”

Katherine was in reality a strong, assertive business woman.  She managed an enormous household selling linen, renting horses, and brewing beer.  Her home, a former monastery, was a boardinghouse for university students and guests.  Refugees from religious persecution could find shelter there.  It was a hospital in times of plague.  Many men thought Katherine was too outspoken, but she was a good match for her strong-minded husband.  Like Martin, she remained true to her convictions, even when the world had different expectations.

Katharina von Bora Luther passed away on December 20, 1552 at Torgau after a serious accident during her flight from Wittenberg.  Her funeral and burial was on December 21 at St. Mary’s Church in Torgau.  Her husband Martin had passed away on February 18, 1546, five years earlier.  Katie was 53 years of age at the time of her death.

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