It's an interesting time to be church. As awareness of social injustices grows throughout the country and the world, the same is happening within the church. As the Gospel shows us time and again, Jesus' favor, attention, and ministry was directed toward freeing and uplifting the poor and oppressed. However, the way ELCA churches have lived that out has been...well...not the best.
When I was going through the assignment and call process, I distinctly remember all of my seminary classmates and I being called to a meeting with our discernment person from the seminary and the Bishop of the Western North Dakota Synod. During that meeting, they laid out the process we were entering into. They told us what we needed to do to stand out to bishops and churches, what paperwork we needed to fill out, they gave us deadlines, and they let us know what we could expect in the process ahead. Then...they laid out some realities for us.
They told us:
Why is this a reality? Well...because it turns out there are many churches who are simply not ready or willing to consider more diverse candidates. It's an injustice happening right inside our church body. When we embrace the full diversity of God's church and open ourselves up to leaders with voices different than our own, we are opening ourselves up to the Holy Spirit's work to take us to new places for the sake of the Gospel.
To be fair, often times the first time a congregation is asked to consider looking at a female, person of color, or LGBTQIA+ candidate is when they have already entered into the call process. At that point they're grieving the loss of their pastor, and they have a short amount of time to make a decision to keep the process toward a new pastor rolling. Realistically, it's simply not the right time to enter into the many deep threads of conversation and dialogue that are needed to consider diverse candidates, and how to make the congregation a welcoming place for those candidates should they become the congregation's pastor.
When congregations are unwilling to partner with diverse candidates, not only does the church miss out, but seminary students who invested at least 4 years of their lives and a lot of money into becoming a pastor are left to live in a constant waiting game.
So how do we address this injustice?
We start with conversation in our own congregations who already have called pastors and are not in the call process.
But how do we get congregations to do that?
Through a resolution! A resolution is an official statement that is lifted up, voted on, and adopted at our annual Synod Assembly. A well-written resolution will state a problem, then offer up a way of resolving that problem. In order for a resolution to be lifted up at Synod Assembly, it has to be endorsed by a congregation, a committee, or a minimum of 10 individuals.
Luckily, the Christ the King Church Council has endorsed a resolution to address this very issue!
Here is the resolution being lifted up:
Resolution Title: Opening the Way for Women, People of Color, and LGBTQIA+ Candidates
WHEREAS, the body of Christ is made of a collection of diverse images of God; and
WHEREAS, God calls us to work for peace for all people through justice; and
WHEREAS, women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ candidates wait longer for calls than their white, straight, male, cis-gendered colleagues; and
WHEREAS, the ELCA is the the least racially diverse denomination in the US; and
WHEREAS, representation in leadership matters; and
WHEREAS, the covid-19 pandemic is leading to burnout of clergy and a push toward transitions of call; and
WHEREAS, faithful discernment in the calling of pastoral candidates takes time and discussion facilitated by trusted leaders; and
WHEREAS, the first time many congregations engage in conversation about calling women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ candidates is when they are just about to or have already entered the call process
THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that congregations of the ECSW with a called pastor begin conversation and discernment on the future calling of women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ candidates; and BE IT FURTHER
RESOLVED, that congregations in conversation also create action plans for making their congregation a more safe working, living, and ministry environment for women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ pastors through a commitment to education, training, continued prayerful discernment, and systemic change.
Let's be clear here: This resolution is not aiming to force any congregation to accept a female, person of color, or LGBTQIA+ candidate. That doesn't serve congregations or candidates well.
What it IS doing however, is encouraging congregations to have discussion about accepting diverse candidates while they STILL have a trusted pastor who can lead and facilitate those conversations. Additionally, it is asking congregations to take an honest look at their practices and congregational culture to explore how they could move themselves toward being a more accepting or hospitable place for candidates to serve.
The endorsement by the Church Council is representation of all of you! By endorsing this resolution, you all are taking an active role in addressing injustices that happen within the larger church -- this is work to celebrate! Thanks, Holy Spirit!
Peace be the journey,
Only in Wisconsin! What a great day for parking lot worship -5 degrees! Everyone was warm in their cars and I was warm in the porta-pulpit! In fact, the preacher was so full of hot air the window fogged up! God sure has a sense of humor!
It has been bitterly cold, but with Ash Wednesday beginning Lent last night, Spring will be in the air soon! Lent can be a good break from life which can feel overwhelming from - busyness, anxiety, responsibilities, alienation, or even the temptation to compare our lives to someone else. This world likes to push us around and tell us we are less than anything. Thankfully, Jesus has come for all of us to know a different way of living and seeing the world from God’s perspective.
During the Wednesdays of Lent we will be focusing on the theme “Embodied.” A liberating way of integrating our thinking, actions, emotions, and spirituality to live for God. I hope you will plan to use the spiritual discipline of Lent to see how one’s mind, body, heart, and soul are called to be in-line with our daily thoughts and actions as Christians.
Embodied for Lent will take on many ways to feel deeply and have a sense of wholeness. Beyond our weekly livestreamed worship on Wednesdays (6:30pm), we have daily devotionals, coloring pages, discussion after worship, and a host of other ways to connect. Contact the church office for details or pick up materials in the tote outside the office doors, next to the mailbox.
Join in, be made whole, and beat the low temperatures. Together let us see God’s love come to life!
Christ’s Blessings & Peace,
Lent is a time for spiritual growth and stretching. In the middle of a LONG winter and a LONG pandemic, there's certainly space for us to grow, learn, and stretch our faith a bit. We have a WHOLE LOT of opportunities for growth coming up this Lent, but I wanted to feature one in particular this week, as I think it's a GREAT opportunity for anyone who is missing getting to interact with the friendly folks from church.
Starting on February 23rd, we're excited to offer another round of the ALPHA series, which will be facilitated by two Christ the King partners in ministry.
Alpha is an 11-week series that is designed to get people asking questions about faith TOGETHER.
Each time the Alpha group gathers, they'll watch a video that introduces the question of the night, and they'll get to talk it out and explore from there. THAT'S IT!
The bonus of joining an Alpha group is that you'll get to meet people from our community and get to form an authentic and meaningful relationship with them.
So far, we have had a handful of cohorts who have done the Alpha series together, including our 9th grade confirmation students. All involved have reported how meaningful it was for them, and how they grew as the weeks went on.
Check out the video below to learn a little bit more about it, and if you'd like to join the group starting on February 23rd, please email Denise Barnaal at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Christ the King stands with you Kimberly High School students and administration who immediately reported an Instagram message of racism. On the first day of Black History month, someone falsely used the KHS logo to promote “KHS White Club.” This is not a real club. See the KHS Special Announcement –
Racism is real. It is intended to hurt and keep others from being equal. Individually and collectively, we have work to do to understand and to combat attitudes, language, and institutional/systemic racism. As part of our seminary learning both Pastor Dara and I were required to take anti-racism classes. Both of us embrace and take seriously our call to serve you and the expectations entrusted to us by the ELCA:
Much like keeping up on boundary training, we have anti-racism training too. Recently, we attended a 6 hour anti-racism workshop. I was reminded of this quote from an anti-racism class I attended two years ago that spoke to me: “It has taken great effort to bring about racism in this country and it will take great effort and energy to reverse and eliminate the work of racism.” How will I use my energy?
At CtK, our energy is around our core values that were worked on by the congregation. The first value reflects an anti-racist value as we welcome people:
“Being Welcoming and Inclusive – we fearlessly extend Christ’s love and radical welcome all people and affirm their worth and dignity regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, gender, identity, ability or class.”
This is where we start at CtK, and we continue to expand beyond this as the Spirit guides and directs. As you heard at the Annual Meeting on Sunday, we are working on setting up book studies and conversations around anti-racism after Easter and/or summertime. In the meantime, we are open to questions you may have for dialog.
In the Church catholic (small “c” for catholic meaning - universal) already has diversity of cultures. It is important to remember we are church together and we are one in Christ. As the body of Christ, we are free to live out our connectedness with each other. Although racism affects each one of us differently, we must take responsibility for our participation, acknowledge our complicity, repent of our sin, and pray God will bring us to reconciliation. Racism, both blatant and subtle (and I would add even neutral or silent), continues to deny the reconciling work of the cross. God’s forgiveness frees us from the bonds of racism. For some, this may mean giving up power or privilege; for others, it may mean giving up anger or prejudice. May we know and share the energy of this reconciliation in our lives with others! Thank you, Kimberly High School students and administration for being anti-racist. We stand with you!
Christ’s Blessings & Peace,