CONNECTEDNESS STORY: OUR DELAWARE-MARYLAND SYNOD CANDIDACY

Candidacy: A call from God. In the Lutheran tradition a person’s call from God to public ministry is understood as both internal and external:

  • through an internal, personal sense of call that God is leading a person to public Christian ministry.
  • through other members of a congregation who encourage a person to enter public Christian ministry.
  • through public confirmation that a person has the character, commitment, preparation, and ability to serve in a public ministry roster.
  • through the receipt and acceptance of a letter of call to serve in a particular ministry setting.”

from:  “Welcome to the Candidacy Process of the ELCA!”

Currently in the DE-MD Synod, there are thirty-five (35) candidates, many of them students at United Lutheran Seminary, in various stages of the multi-step call process. But what is the candidacy process, you may ask? The process begins by applying for entrance as a candidate to become a rostered minister of  Word and Sacrament (a Pastor)  or Word and Service (a Deacon).  The Candidacy Committee represents the larger church as both a gate-keeper and partner for each candidate as they enter and complete the many steps leading to approval and assignment of his/her call.

In the words of one of our current candidates, “The process of Candidacy is one of deep discernment, self-examination, and continual faith formation. Each step of the process is carefully mapped out to ensure that the Candidate has a full understanding of themselves, their strengths, weakness’ and growing edges. Additionally, through this process, the Candidate develops a deeper sense of call, the ability to reflect on, integrate and articulate the Lutheran Faith, their commitment and their sense of call to the ministry of Word and Sacrament.”

A person who feels called to rostered ministry starts by completing the multi-step ELCA application process.  Upon receiving a positive entrance decision, a “relator” (a member of the committee) is assigned to each one to guide them during their years of preparation which includes seminary coursework, Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), Endorsement, Internship, and Approval and Assignment for First Call, each steps to become a Minister of Word and Sacrament or Minister of Word and Service. Candidates apply for entrance into seminary at the same time they are applying to their Synod Candidacy Committee.

Vicar Peg Klus Marose, currently in the Internship phase of candidacy, shares, “The path of Candidacy has provided me with the opportunity to explore, stretch and live into my faith, my personal theology and my place as a child of God. Through this process, I am blessed to spend each and every day studying the Word and explore ways to share that word with the world. Each rung of the Candidacy ladder causes me to dig even deeper into the Lutheran Faith and formulate ways to articulate these teachings in preparation for a lifetime of shepherding.”

Clergy and Lay Members can support the process by encouraging individuals who may have the necessary gifts to consider entering public ministry.  Prayers and encouragement of their pastors and congregations throughout the stages of their candidacy process are very much needed during this intensive time. You may also be sensing a call for yourself, talk to your Pastor or feel free to contact the Rev. Amsalu Geleta at [email protected] to assist in your discernment.

Thanks and prayers go to those serving the synod on the Candidacy Committee as they work to guide candidates to their first call in the various ministries of the church. Gratitude to the many congregations that sponsor candidates with financial assistance, prayers, internship placements. We also encourage members across our synod to support our ELCA Fund for Leaders by donating here: https://www.elca.org/Our-Work/Leadership/ELCA-Fund-for-Leaders/Give-Now.

Our DE-MD Synod Candidacy Committee is comprised of a group of fourteen individuals, clergy and lay appointed by the bishop or selected as part of their position from the ULS and ELCA.  Current members include:  Rev. David Asendorf, Chair, Rev. Patrick Ballard, Rev. Martha Clementson, Rev. Dr. Joseph Donnella, Ms. Heather Gayle, Rev. Dr. Amsalu Geleta, Bishop Bill Gohl, Mr. Robert Hahn, Mrs. Leslie Hobbs, Candidacy Coordinator, Rev. Kathleen Ierien, Rev. Virginia Price, Deaconess Jean Warren, Rev. Dr. John Largen, ULS, Rev. Dr. Paul Baglyos, ELCA. Here they are meeting both in person and virtually!

 

CONNECTEDNESS STORY: COMMUNITY DIAPER DRIVE

GENEROSITY: Re-imagining Stewardship: Evolving ideas for different times

Have you thought about how we interpret all the passages of scripture related to giving, tithing, and the essence of being a steward? Do we treat these readings as clear dictates, rightly applicable from their original context to ours and coming from a single, unified voice? Or do we see a process, a more significant trajectory of re-imagining, over thousands of years and varied cultures, what it means to live a life of faith, to multiply love and goodness, and to generously contribute to the common good?

What, if anything, does fundraising have to do with stewardship, and is there a role for fundraising wisdom and practices? For example, fundraising and development professionals talk about “case statements” or “making the case” as the explanation of why an organization deserves philanthropic support. If we want people to be not just stewards but good stewards, making the case is one way we help them discern that supporting our ministries is a better choice than other options they might be considering. Efforts to make the case, articulate how vision leads to impact and clarify the real problems our congregation exists to solve, are all ways of reinforcing that good stewardship is a higher aspiration than merely being a steward.

The Lake Institute on Faith and Giving in Indianapolis has been teaching for years that people are actively re-imagining how God is calling them to make a difference through their resources. Lake Institute refers to this shift in people’s giving paradigms as moving from an institutional focus to being donor centric. Giving is re-imagined not as a duty or obligation to autonomous institutions trusted by default, but as a response to grace, a pathway to spiritual transformation and a means to impact. In the new paradigm, donors and institutions are partners, building trust over time and making a difference by working together.

To further re-imagine stewardship, check out the podcast from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, including the episode titled “Case for Support.” Feel free to also get connected to one of the stewardship seminars happening around the ELCA titled “Cultivating Generous Congregations” based on curricula from the Lake Institute.by Rev. Larry Strenge

 

BUILDING PUENTES: CONNECTING

The following is a reflection from Meg Blodgett member of Calvary, Mt. Airy, another one of the volunteers working in Puerto Rico this week to aid in recovery from Hurricane Maria. Over the next weeks, volunteers will serve and support as a part of the Building Puentes initiative with the Caribbean Synod, the Metro D.C. Synod, and our Delaware-Maryland Synod. A few of them will be reflecting on their experiences, and we will share them here on our blog.

 

After going to multiple ELCA youth gatherings over the past 10 years, I have always found my “God moments” during times of interaction with the people we are helping rather than the actual service work itself. Although the work is very important, I love being able to connect with the people who are in the areas that we are going to help. For 9 months, I have been waiting to come to Puerto Rico and work with the community here to re-build their homes and lives. This was my chance to actually re-build houses, roofs, fences, and immerse myself in a new culture for two weeks! Monday afternoon, I sat down with the 6 other people that I would be working with for the next week to help re-build a man named Alfonso’s porch and overhang. His house had been destroyed by Hurricane Maria. We shared expectations and prior experience that we could bring to the project. I told the group that I did not have much experience building things besides Lego sets but I was willing to learn! The next four days we would spend helping Alfonso fix his roof and learn his story.

Tuesday morning, my group arrives at the house and are greeted by Alfonso who was so eager to meet us all and show us his house. Case managers from Lutheran Social Services of Puerto Rico greeted us as well to help us facilitate communication with Alfonso and be a point of contact for our group if we needed help. Although there was a language barrier between Alfonso and I, I tried my best to use my three years of high school Spanish to be able to introduce myself and tell him how happy I was there to help. He understood my attempt to communicate and returned it by telling me “Thank you for coming” and shook my hand. The next 6 hours went by swiftly. At the end of the work day, we had built the foundation of the porch roofing addition and I had even drilled some of the hangers into the frame!

On the drive back to camp, I started to contemplate the topic of my blog post that I was supposed to write the next day. Turning to one of my teammates, I asked, “What if I interviewed Alfonso as part of my blog post?” She thought it was a great idea and we got to work thinking about some questions that I could ask him.

Wednesday morning, we arrived at Alfonso’s house at 8:00am, ready to work and I was eager to learn more about Alfonso’s life. I asked the case managers if they would ask Alfonso if I could interview him for the blog and if they were able to translate the conversation. Both were in agreement and Alfonso was ready to participate as well.

The following is a translation of the interview I had with Alfonso:

Meg: How many people lived in your house before the hurricane?

Alfonso: I lived there with my daughter and 3 grandchildren.

Meg: How old are you?

Alfonso: In October, I will be turning 85.

Meg: Do you have family living by?

Alfonso: Yes, my sister lives in the house right next to mine. I am staying there while my house is being rebuilt. She is having health issues so she is staying in the city in Dorado.

Meg: I know you are probably retired by now. What did you used to do for work?

Alfonso: I have been retired for 10 years. Before that, I worked as an assistant chef in hotel kitchens around the island.

Meg: Please tell me about your experience during the hurricane.

Alfonso: During the hurricane, I stayed at my sister’s house with her and one of my grandchildren. It was safer there. No one in my family was hurt during the hurricane.

Meg: What happened after the hurricane?

Alfonso: After the hurricane, I stayed at my sister’s. The roof was completely ripped off my house and everything inside had water damage. The electricity and plumbing were destroyed. My daughter and her children moved into the city to stay in government-funded housing. I didn’t want to go with them. I didn’t want to leave my house. I like it here.

Meg: How much did FEMA help?

Alfonso: They gave me some money for supplies to rebuild my roof. But it wasn’t enough. The hurricane destroyed all of my family’s clothes and appliances. I went out and bought wood for the roof but it wasn’t enough for the porch roof. I had volunteers help me rebuild the roof of my house.

Meg: How does building this roof going to help you and your future life in Puerto Rico?

Alfonso: A lot. The fence surrounding my porch was gone. Other volunteers helped me put it up. I live on a hill and spend most of my time on the porch. Now when my grandchildren move back in, we won’t worry about them falling and getting hurt.

Meg: What do you love about Puerto Rico?

Alfonso: I love the sports here. I love watching baseball and boxing. I like living where I am. I’ve been here for 70 years. It has a peaceful setting and landscape.

Meg: What do you want us to know about Puerto Rico?

Alfonso: The music. The music here is great and so moving. Take in the art of Puerto Rico. If I was able to take you somewhere, I would take you to a baseball game and to hear the music of my home.

End of the Interview.

Serving and mission work isn’t just about physical labor and building stuff…it’s about connecting with people and getting to know them and their unique stories. I hope you enjoyed learning more about Alfonso and his life in Puerto Rico as my team and I have this week.

BUILDING PUENTES: GRATEFUL

The following is a reflection from Sharon Stromberg from Frederick, one of the volunteers working in Puerto Rico this week to aid in recovery from Hurricane Maria. Over the next weeks, volunteers will serve and support as a part of the Building Puentes initiative with the Caribbean Synod, the Metro D.C. Synod, and our Delaware-Maryland Synod. A few of them will be reflecting on their experiences, and we will share them here on our blog.

Tuesday was our first day on our work sites. When I talked to people this evening, I heard all kinds of stories. Some groups experienced logistical challenges with tools or supplies. Others learned the joys of concrete construction: jackhammering out old windows; power-washing, sealing, and priming flat roofs.

Here are some reflections on our day:

  • Our group had a very special “God moment.” We needed to clear brush away from a doorway, but didn’t have any tools that would do the job. Then someone noticed a rather rusty machete lying on the ground nearby. It proved to be quite sharp and exactly what we needed.
  • A couple of our youth made friends with the 5-year-old who lived in the home where we were working. Despite the fact that he spoke no English at all, they wound up playing with him for quite some time. We could tell that it really made his day. I’m sure he will never forget us.
  • Several ladies in our group were busy hauling 4×8 plywood sheets up the 55+ steps to our work site. A bunch of pre-teen kids came by on their way back from a VBS program. They felt sorry for us working so hard and pitched in to help finish the job. We were very grateful!
  • The home we worked on belongs to a gentleman who is bed-ridden due to a spinal injury from an auto accident. He enjoyed talking to the members of our crew (in very good English), and expressed his gratitude over and over.
  • Our homeowner complained about the iguanas ruining the crop on his fruit trees. He explained, they like to eat papayas and mangoes, but they don’t like starfruit. Next thing we knew, he was presenting us with two full bags of starfruit that he’d picked for us. It was delicious! We also got to try quenepa, another unusual tropical fruit.
  • Power-washing a roof is one of the more fun jobs on a hot, sunny day.

We’d like to give a special shout-out to the LSS staff and case managers who accompanied us to each job site. And of course to the staff of Campamento Luterano Dr. Eduardo Roig who are taking good care of us.