A day to keep track of by tears – again. This morning we took the final vote to combine all the kinds of lay ministries into one ministry called Deacon. So all the men and women who have worked so faithfully in the world and in the church in service ministries will now be called Ministers of Word and Service, while all the pastors will be called Ministers of Word and Sacrament. This is long overdue. It gives the lay workers who are the church’s bridge to the world through their service parallel status to the ordained workers in ministry. There has been a lot of discussion and delay of this issue and when the vote was overwhelmingly in favor, the whole assembly rose with whoops and applause. I was so moved by the reception these faithful servants were granted and the celebration it caused. So exciting.
We elected a Vice President today. William Horn has been on Church Council and has been a Synod VP for awhile. He was touched an honored. He’ll be a great choice. I teared up.
Worship was again moving and spectacular. This morning we celebrated our medieval heritage in music and song, and Deacon Louise Thompson preached a moving sermon about the Word becoming flesh. We sang Beautiful Savior as we processed out. Four part harmony, of course. I teared up.
This afternoon our keynote speaker was Leymah Gbowee, Lutheran Liberian Nobel Prize winner. She really schooled us about the church’s lack action in changing the violence and division in the world. “The state of the world is a reflection of the state of the church,” she said. “Why are we in a place where darkness it’s taking over, when we believe that Jesus is the light of the world.” She really took us to school about our willingness to let the world continue to be so dark and not stand up for the light. When she was asked about our role in the Israel/Palestine situation, she suggested that we deal with violence in our own society before we tell other people what they should be doing. She was harsh, but she has the credentials to call the church to account as her organizing the women of Liberia to stand up to Charles Taylor and end the civil war in Liberia. Her call to stand up for life in the world was moving. I teared up and then I cheered. What an inspiration.
Worship tomorrow to start the day, then another plenary session that will finally tackle the resolution to divest of fossil fuels, and address the situation in Israel and Palestine. Do we divest and back away from our support of Israel as our Palestinian Lutheran brothers and sisters ask, or try to stay at the table to help lead conversation?
Packing tonight – not sure everything I brought will fit in my bags. And then a long flight home through Seattled.
See you on Sunday.