Dear Beloved in Christ of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod,
On the day of the Epiphany of our Lord, 2021, insurrectionists stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C. We watched with horror as the foundations of our democracy were shaken.
Epiphany is about enlightenment and revelation; and on this day, much was revealed.
This was the culmination of months of talk about "civil war," "combat," and "rigged elections." Words matter. Inflammatory rhetoric fueled by baseless conspiracy theories leads to violence.
Eyewitness accounts from our siblings in Christ of the Metro Washington and Delaware-Maryland Synods, who were holding a prayer vigil, report that the mob continually shouted racist slurs at them as they prayed. Racism and white supremacy underlie much of the division and violence in our country.
The events of this day disrupted the orderly transition of power, a perpetual miracle that we had come to take for granted. Our government is more fragile than we had come to believe.
Many among us display an unquestioned loyalty to the president, which our faith tells us is due only to God. Idolatry is not a quaint vestige of Old Testament history. It is real, and it is among us.
But other things were also revealed.
On this day, some 2000 years after kings paid homage to him at his birth, Jesus's message of peace, justice and non-violence has outlived and continues to outshine every earthly power. Jesus is Lord!
While shaken, the foundations of our government held because God is still at work through fallible human beings carrying out their vocations of public service, citizenship and law enforcement.
As your Bishop, I call upon all of us of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA to be deeply and daily invested in these four commitments of our church and of our life of faith.
"This church teaches that civic engagement is a vital aspect of discipleship for baptized Christians. We have a responsibility not only to fulfill our private roles and functions in life, and to pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2), but also to be civically engaged. We do so to act against destructive consequences but also for fair and compassionate governance."
Our commitment to dismantle racial injustice by listening to voices, experiences and the expertise of people of color expressed through this church's anti-racism pledge.
Our commitment to pray for our nation and its leaders expressed in Scripture.
Our commitment to work for justice and peace in all the earth expressed in our baptismal covenant.
Let us pray: Eternal God, amid all the turmoil and changes of the world, your love is steadfast and your strength never fails. In this time of danger and trouble, be to us a sure guardian and rock of defense. Guide the leaders of our nation with your wisdom, comfort those in distress, and grant us courage and hope to face the future; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
In Christ our Savior and Lord,
Pastor Bill Tesch, Bishop of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA
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“We Are Church:” ELCA Churchwide Assembly Report
On August 5, 2019 the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), began its fifteenth churchwide assembly in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Under the theme We Are Church, nearly 1000 voting members and guests gathered to worship, review the work of the churchwide organization, and vote on matters of governance and policy. Twenty-one voting members from the Northwestern Minnesota Synod participated in the assembly along with similar contingents from the ELCA’s other 64 synods.
Major actions taken by the Assembly included:
· Re-electing Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton on the first ballot, with over 81% of the vote. Bishop Eaton, who was first elected in 2013, will serve a second 6-year term through 2025.
· Electing Deacon Sue Rothmeyer as Secretary of the ELCA. The Secretary is an officer and executive administrator for matters pertaining to the ELCA’s governing documents, organizational structure, and maintenance of the rosters of ministers and congregations.
· Approving a change to the ELCA constitution stating that the entrance rite for deacons (rostered ministers of word and service) will be ordination rather than consecration.
· Receiving and approving budgets for the churchwide organization during the next triennium. To find out how you contribute to the life and mission of the ELCA go to: Where does my offering go?
· Receiving the results of Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA. This $198 million campaign was approved by the 2013 Churchwide Assembly. At the Campaign’s conclusion on June 30, 2019 nearly $250 million has been raised through gifts, pledges, and planned giving.
· Presenting a Declaration to People of African Descent to representatives of the African Descent Lutheran Association—and voting to commemorate June 17 as a day of repentance and remembrance in the ELCA for the deaths of the “Emanuel Nine” who were murdered on June 17, 2015, during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
· Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the ordination of women, the 40th anniversary of the first ordination of a woman of color in the ELCA, and the 10th anniversary of the ELCA’s acceptance of persons in committed same-sex relationships (since 2015, marriages) on the ELCA rosters of ministry.
"When Jesus died, something happened as a result of which the world was a different place. By six o'clock on the evening of the first Good Friday, the world had changed. A revolution had begun." N.T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 355.