"The office of bishop is now committed to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Let me tell you a little bit about the Holy Spirit's work as it played out here at Christ the King last week...
Well...actually, back in September the East Central Synod of Wisconsin elected our first female bishop during our online synod assembly. We had originally planned to have Bishop Anne's installation in early January, however the covid-19 surge that we were experiencing in the fall led us to postpone the service to April 11th, when it would be safer for bishops from other areas, including Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, to travel to this area.
Leading up to last Sunday the 11th, there was a LOT of work from very faithful people done. There was an installation team that was made up of pastors and lay leaders to plan all aspects of the installation, including the worship liturgy, the adornment of our sanctuary at Christ the King, and communicating with both the churchwide office and our local congregations on all the details.
Up until last week, it was all planning, but as soon as Monday hit, the pieces were moving quickly. One of the most remarkable things to witness was the transformation of our sanctuary. For the last several weeks, the installation team had been gathering fabric from congregations throughout the synod. As fabric piled up here at Christ the King we had NO idea what the intention was with it. However, when Pastor Leah (Good Shepherd, Plover) and Pastor Sara (St. John, Marion) showed up on Tuesday, the piles of fabric were slowly transformed into the beautifully adorned wall you saw in worship. Some pieces of fabric came with notes, others came with stories, and all of it from the congregations were combined to show a beautiful representation of our synod coming together to surround Bishop Anne during her installation. Later in the day, Pastors Leah and Sara found they were weary and called for some reinforcements. With a quick phone call and without question, faithful folks of Christ the King showed up to help hang the beautiful arrangements of fabric.
Then there was the video and production piece....WOWZA what a team effort! All music and videos were coordinated by Dr. Kartika Putri who is the music minister up at Good Shepherd in Wausau. Throughout the last month she has been sending me videos of the hymns, which were sung by representatives from throughout the synod. In addition to those hymns, I was also receiving videos from pastors who were serving as readers, as well as photos for the virtual processional, AND our visual storyteller, Sue Wendler, was working tirelessly on powerpoint slides and the paper bulletin for the local worshippers.. ALLL of these pieces, were then passed to one of our CtK producers, Brent Schuettpelz, who sorted, organized, and rehearsed everything you saw on your screens on Sunday, AS WELL AS everything we saw locally in the sanctuary. The time and energy put in by Kartika, Sue, and Brent was a wonderful gift to the synod!
Fast forward to Sunday. Ya'll....the JOY in the room. One by one, bishops from other ELCA synods and leaders of other denominations arrived at Christ the King. Bishop Eaton, who is the presiding bishop of the ELCA came as well, as it is her ministry to install bishops of synods. It's the most people we'd had in the building at one time (15) in over a year, and it felt SO good. There were masked, long distanced hugs, there were people greeting one another from different rooms, and the whole time we all did our best to abide by Christ the King's re-entry plan.
If you had a chance to watch it, the worship service speaks for itself. The Gospel was proclaimed, a fire was lit in the baptismal font, and our Bishop Anne was installed. JOY! JOY! JOY!
After worship we filed outside to take photos and to admire the port-a-pulpit. I didn't get a photo of it, but let me tell you...it was quite the sight to see Pastor Nate explaining to a handful of bishops, including Bishop Eaton, how we use the port-a-pulpit, and to see the amazement on their faces.
I could truly go on and on about what a BIG and Holy day it was on Sunday, but I won't. What I will say however is that Holy Spirit was for surely present, and God's love was alive and kickin' here indeed!
Peace be the journey,