This morning I sent my girls off to their first days of school. While the temperature will still reach into the mid-80’s today, this morning there was a definite crisp coolness to the air that told me, “Fall is on the way!” And after a hot, smoky, fire-filled summer: such a promise comes as a welcome gift.
Our monthly communication took a bit of a break over the summer. We’re still in the process of figuring out how we can best and most effectively communicate with the synod, but knew it was time for a printed newsletter to bring you up to speed on all that has been happening in EWAID.
1. WE HAVE A NEW DIRECTOR OF EVANGELICAL MISSION! Ms. Mary Morrow was called to serve EWAID as our Director of Evangelical Mission (DEM). Mary comes to us with a rich and unique background in spiritual direction, business, communications, and yoga (we’re counting on her to help us find our zen in the synod office!). She also brings along a great heart for the Church, and for the mission of EWAID as the Spirit is revealing it to us. She began serving in mid-July, and has already been such a gift! She will be traveling throughout the synod this fall, will be at the Bishop’s Convocation, and Idaho Discipleship Conference—come say hello! She and her husband, Pastor Bob Albing, live in Coeur d’Alene.
2. WE HAVE A NEW ASSISTANT TO THE BISHOP! Pastor Phil Misner was called to serve EWAID as our Assistant to the Bishop. Phil has long been a leader in EWAID, serving in any number of capacities and is known by his colleagues to be a thoughtful, deliberate leader. I am delighted to get to work with him as we seek to encourage connectivity throughout EWAID. Phil was most recently the pastor at Peace Colfax and Trinity Endicott. He and his family will be moving to Post Falls in early September, and Phil will likewise be at Bishop’s Convocation and the Idaho Discipleship Conference. Phil’s official duties within the Synod Office are still in discernment, but we know he will be taking lead on most call processes within the Synod and will have the responsibility of planning for Synod Assemblies and the Regional Gathering pilot program passed at this year’s synod assembly.
3. WE HAVE NEW OFFICE SUPPORT STAFF! Melody Green has been working with EWAID since May, and is a shared staff position with the Diocese of Spokane. Melody is with us in the afternoons, and has been a fantastic addition to our staff. She is Cathy’s main office support, and has done a wonderful job helping us get organized, uploading information into searchable databases, etc.
I also want to take a moment to thank you for your faithful financial support to the Synod. We often get asked, “Does the Synod have money to pay for…..?” The reality is that the Synod only has the money that congregations share with it through their mission support. The congregations of EWAID have been good partners to us this year, and as the spiritual leader of EWAID: I thank you for it! We are (and can only be) church together. Your generosity to us helps us to be generous in turn. Part of that congregational generosity is being turned into salaries for synod staff members, who will in turn be ready and able to offer support to congregations through training, call process, mediation, resources, etc. We also give thanks for the partnership of the ELCA, who has partnered with us in a temporary reduction in the mission support EWAID sends on to them in order to make some investments in the life and vitality of our synod. As Bishop Eaton says: We are church together, for the sake of the world. Congregations, synods, and Churchwide—we all work together for the glory of God.
Getting new staff in place took up most of the summer. Now that we are fully staffed, it is time to turn our attention to the fall. Fall is a busy travel season for me—even busier than normal, and much of my time is spent out of the synod attending the Conference of Bishops, making seminary visits, and helping to lead First Call Theological Education (a 3-year program required of all new pastors by the ELCA to help with the transition from seminary to professional ministry). We also manage to squeeze in a Synod Council meeting and this year we will conduct a 1-day Synod Staff Retreat at Lutherhaven where we will focus on casting a vision for the synod, giving us a direction to paddle the canoe. I’m tired of treading water. Let’s go somewhere!
Finally, I wanted to share with you the goals established by the ELCA’s “Future Directions” task force. The Bishops will be spending time talking about this in our upcoming meeting, and I would like to have input from you as well.
The Five Goals are that the ELCA would be:
1. A Thriving Church
2. An Equipping Church
3. A Welcoming Church
4. A Visible Church
5. A Well-Governed, Connected, Sustainable Church
We know that the Church has to evolve to meet the changing world. How we do that is where most people just short of blink and shrug. Our hope is that by having wide conversations around these goals with you, the people of the ELCA, that we will begin to discern a path forward—for the good of all. For more information about the Future Directions plan, you can go to www.elca.org/future.
It is a busy time of year. Harvest of grain is wrapping up, harvest of grapes and apples is getting ready to start. Kids are heading back to school. Congregational program years are gearing up. God’s Work, Our Hands Sunday is right around the corner. There is life in this synod! And, as always, I am so glad to get to do this work with you!
Soli Deo Gloria,