CONNECTEDNESS STORY: RACIAL JUSTICE MINISTRY TEAM

The Racial Justice Ministry Team was established to provide an opportunity for congregations, teams, and other organizations of the Delaware-Maryland Synod to gather for the purpose of strengthening our collective and individual resolve in addressing the sin of racism.  This ministry is about being inclusive, not exclusive, to create a climate of peace, justice, freedom and dignity that embraces all people. A climate that provides opportunities for growth, leadership, empowerment and advocating for policies and programs that are socially and racially just.

The Racial Justice team meets regularly to review and discuss the latest literature and information on social justice and plans ways to incorporate this information into activities, workshops, and other opportunities to share across our synod. Some of the ways include:

  • Provide tools to help identify how and where race is playing a role.
  • Offer a deeper understanding of how race/racism operates in each other, in congregations and in society as a whole.
  • Plan events to expose folks to systems and structures that lay into racism.

By naming “racism”, we are free to discuss it, learn from it and overcome it.

(Palm Sunday Way of the Cross Racial Justice Ministry Team pilgrimage along Harford Road, 4/14/2019)

If your congregation or organization would like to learn more about racial justice, the team will share information and provide workshops upon request. Please contact the chair of the team, Rev. Patrick Gahagen at Journey of Faith (410 655 5250) or at [email protected].

CONNECTEDNESS STORY: STEPHEN MINISTRY AT LUTHERAN VILLAGE AT MILLER GRANT

Such a joy to share the incredible ways that God is calling members across our ministries to serve as disciples of Christ!  On April 2nd, eleven residents of The Lutheran Village at Miller’s Grant were commissioned as Stephen Ministers. This is the first class to be trained at the senior living community since being approved as a Stephen Ministry organization in 2018. Stephen Ministry trains lay people to provide one-to-one Christian care to those experiencing grief, illness, hospitalization, life transitions, or other life challenges.  “These Stephen Ministers will share gifts beyond casual care and concern,” said Rev. Stacey Brady, Chaplain at Miller’s Grant. “These relationships will be characterized by compassionate listening, regular visits, full confidentiality, and dependability.”

The Lutheran Village at Miller’s Grant is a faith-based, not-for-profit continuing care retirement community in Ellicott City with 205 apartments, 36 homes, 20 assisted living suites and 12 skilled care beds along Frederick Road next to the Charles E. Miller Library.  The community is currently home to over 300 residents and one of our Delaware-Maryland Partner Ministries allowing seniors to make connections through faithful interactions, uplifting activities, engaging interactions, all to captivate the imagination and heart. .

More than 13,000 congregations and organizations from more than 170 denominations in the United States, Canada, and 30 other countries utilize Stephen Ministers.  More than 600,000 laypeople have received Stephen Minister training and have provided support to more than 1.5 million people.

Learn more: https://bit.ly/2UjUHAH

 

CONNECTEDNESS STORY: CELEBRATION OF LAY MINISTRY

This year will mark the 22nd year that our Delaware-Maryland Synod will recognize lay leaders who make significant contributions to ministry in congregations and social ministry organizations. In just over a week, on May 5th, we’ll gather for our 2019 Celebration of Lay Ministry award dinner.  We will recognize lay leaders who we know are the foundation of so many vital aspects of God’s mission among us. They inspire music ministry, kitchen fellowship, community service, social ministry, faith formation, and so much more.  This photo is a sample of the joyous gathering that occurs at our Celebration of Lay Ministry where last year, Community of St. Dysmas, our prison congregation, came in force to honor Viola Noffsinger, 30 year musician volunteer!

Congregations and our social ministry organizations select individuals, couples or small groups who extend, expand, and enhance ministry opportunities that are needed. The goal is to have nominations from across our synod representing each conference and a variety of social ministry organizations. Through these nominations, we learn about the nominee and the impact of the volunteer service and a team selects the worthy candidates. This year the recognition dinner will be held on Sunday, May 5th from 4:00-7:00 in the Krug Auditorium at Carroll Lutheran Village. The dinner is served and the keynote speaker this year will be The Rev. Dr. Martin Zimmann from the Gettysburg Campus of United Lutheran Seminary. This special celebration costs $35 to attend. Please consider joining and register by April 26th by completing the form here: https://demdsynod.org/connectedness/celebration-of-lay-ministry/. Help us tell the stories of the incredible ministry opportunities our lay leaders make happen across our great church!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connectedness Story: Creation Care

Today we acknowledge the beauty of God’s Creation and our connectedness with all of nature.  Our Synod Creation Care team has been advocating for clean energy, working to address issues of climate change, and this special Holy week when we journey through Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter vigil and come to celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Easter, they also empower us with ways to live out Earth Day on Monday.

  • As April moves into May, include an appreciation of nature in your daily faith and worship life. Spend time outdoors and notice the beauty and renewal found in spring vegetation, insects, birds, animals, and aquatic life. Give thanks to God the Creator for these good gifts.
  • Let your voice be heard and act for justice in support of creation. Contact your legislators via calls, email, letters, or in person visits to let them know that you treasure creation as a gift from God and want it preserved for future generations. Be active in organizations that care for creation.
  • Plant native trees that reduce carbon dioxide and provide food and habit for wildlife and support pollinators such as bees and butterflies such as milkweed and coneflower to provide food.
  • Use less water by limiting shower times to no more than 10 minutes, turn off the water when brushing teeth, install water conserving showerheads.
  • Change transportation habits to combine trips, walk or ride a bike where possible, carpool or use public transportation, even consider alternatives to flyingas airplanes are a significant contributor to greenhouse gases.
  • Change eating habits by growing your own produce using organic methods or purchase locally grown food. Try eating less meat and other animal products such as eggs and dairy products.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle. Especially find alternatives to plastic. Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery and other stores. Don’t use bottled water and instead bring your own in a reusable container.
  • Conserve energy and switch to renewable energy sources. Think about getting a free energy audit from your local utility. Get a programmable thermostat to reduce the settings when you are not at home and overnight and remember to turn off lights and unplug appliances when not in use and even use cold water setting when washing clothes. You can even switch to electricity provided by wind, solar, or other renewal source.

Over and above all the ways each of us can care for God’s creation, our Delaware-Maryland Creation Care Team and our ELCA have been doing amazing work.

On April 8, 2019, the very last day of the Maryland General Assembly, the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) was passed by the House and Senate and was subsequently sent to the Governor’s desk for signature.  The bill will accelerate the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030, including a huge leap in solar energy combined with quadrupling the state’s commitment to offshore wind. (RPS requires utilities to buy a certain percentage of electricity each year from renewable sources, taking it from the current target of 25% by 2020 to 50% by 2030). Additionally, the bill will provide millions of dollars to workforce development programs, and require the state to create a plan and complete a robust analysis in order to accomplish the goal of Maryland going 100% clean energy by 2040. The Clean Energy Jobs Act is projected to bolster the clean energy economy. It’s estimated the bill would spur on 20,000 new jobs in the solar industry and 5,700 jobs in other renewable energy industries. The Delaware-Maryland Synod Creation Care Ministry collaborated with many other environmental organizations over the past two years to advocate for passage of the bill. Bishop Gohl and ATB for Social Policy, Pr. Lee Hudson, also voiced their support through testimony and personal meetings with legislators. These efforts have allowed Maryland to join a patchwork of other neighboring states to enact policy that addresses climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published in the fall of 2018 made it clear that at every level of government, business, and community, we need to act on climate as quickly and as aggressively as possible.

In recognizing the dire impact of climate change, the 2019 ELCA Advocacy Convening will have the theme “Prepared to Care: Our Advocacy in Light of Disasters Intensified by Climate Change.” The ELCA has also committed to these, among other environmental actions, in 2019.

  • Advocate with Congress and the Administration for strong environmental protection regulation to protect all of creation
  • Support climate finance measures that reduce emissions and enhance resilience to negative climate change impacts
  • Support Lutheran Disaster Response with climate change and disaster connections as well as stewardship of the land
  • Work with associations and faith-based entities on just transition issues in areas where renewable energy technologies are expanding

The Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice social statement explains the ELCA’s teachings on ecology and the environment, grounded in a biblical vision of God’s intention for the healing and wholeness of creation. This statement provides a Christian understanding of the human role to serve in creation, and a hope rooted in God’s faithfulness to the creation from which humans emerge and depend upon for sustaining life. It provides a framework for understanding the human role in creation, the problem of sin and the current environmental crisis.This statement and other caring for creation  resources can be found here: https://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Caring-for-Creation

If you have an interest in Creation Care work, please check out the work of our team at https://demdsynod.org/connectedness/creation-care-ministry/

Connectedness Story: DAART

Today we lift up the connection we have with those who face physical, mental, or neurological struggles. Our Definitely Abled Advocacy and Resource Team (DAART), chaired by Pastor Sandra Carlson Alexis, seeks to offer online resources to congregations and members who are looking for ways to include those who navigate life a little differently. Being welcoming may mean making bathrooms accessible or improving your sound system but it can also mean opening your hearts to include the gifts and talents of someone with down syndrome or autism. Each year the synod has a possABILITY Sunday for churches to encourage participation of all abilities where we can connect and use the gifts of all.

Through this partnership, together we can: 

  • Welcome all people warmly and without hesitation. We are a church that belongs to Christ. There is a place for all.
  • Use language that honors and respects the individual person, language that puts the person first — “person with a disability.”
  • Get to know people as people — not as labels, problems or diagnoses. Learn about a person’s interests & gifts.
  • Ask if a person needs help, before taking control and offering assistance.
  • Encourage all people to grow in their faith and their spiritual practices, and to use their gifts for the good of the church.

To learn more, get involved and to access resources, go to https://demdsynod.org/connectedness/definitely-abled-advocacy-and-resource-team/

Connectedness: Building Puentes!

by Bishop Bill Gohl

“Let us start building!” So they committed themselves to the common good. –Nehemiah 2:18b

A portion of a note from Pastor Mark Parker (Breath of God, Highlandtown) to the Building Puentes mission teams headed to Puerto Rico this summer: “Thank you so much for your desire and commitment to serve alongside our neighbors in Puerto Rico this summer! The response from individuals and congregational groups has been amazing, and we’re excited to continue working together as a team in the months leading up to our time together in Puerto Rico. Our current registration list has 106 volunteers from 24 different congregations, ranging in age across seven decades, and coming from at least six states. It’s an amazing group of people with a variety of experiences, stories, gifts, and abilities–I can’t wait for you all to begin to get to know each other and serve together.”

When people, from time to time, ask what value there is to being Church – and Synod – together, this is a powerful example of how we are tied to one another by the call of the Holy Spirit, in service to God and neighbor. The Building Puentes Initiative is an innovative collaboration among the Caribbean Synod, the Metropolitan Washington, DC Synod, and our Delaware-Maryland Synod, helping us to build cultural bridges and opportunities for serving alongside one another. Some of those opportunities are around issues of leadership and learning; others are about sharing material aid, time and talent for the physical rebuilding of the communities across Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands; each a sign of God’s gracious love given to all and shared for all.

As creation – world, church, and humanity – yearns for ways to cross divides, our church celebrates our connectedness both to one another and to the shared work of Christ in our communities and across the world. Come, friends, let us attend!

Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, so that we may no longer suffer disgrace.” I told them that the hand of my God had been gracious upon me, and also the words that the king had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us start building!” So they committed themselves to the common good. –Nehemiah 2:17-18