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Inspired to respond

by Linda Post Bushkofsky

Triennial ConventionLet’s start with a pop quiz. What do the following topics have in common? Namibian independence, polystyrene products, reducing and eliminating tobacco use and chemical dependency, television evangelism, inclusive language, farm crises, world hunger, prison ministries, Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women, federal budget priorities, child care at synod assemblies and synod-sponsored events, boycott of Nestle and American Home products, organ and tissue donation, HIV and AIDS, recycling, Satanism and ending military aid to El Salvador.

The answer? Together with lots of constitutional amendments, these were the topics raised by, debated and acted upon at Women of the ELCA’s First Triennial Convention in 1990.

What an extraordinary expression of concern both at home and abroad, with personal and global issues! The nearly 500 delegates who gathered in Anaheim, Calif., for that convention helped shape the priorities of our then fledgling organization. And it wasn’t just the delegates who helped raise these issues. Women all across the church had gathered earlier and brought concerns to their synodical conventions that took the form of “memorials” to the triennial convention.

With “resolutions” presented by delegates and “memorials” brought through synodical conventions, local and global issues came to the floor of the triennial convention, all seen and examined through the lens of the Women of the ELCA Purpose Statement. Those of us old enough to remember what was happening in the world as the last decade of the twentieth century dawned can see all those issues reflected in the business of our triennial convention in 1990. We agree in our Purpose Statement to promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society and the world, and the memorials and resolutions acted upon by the delegates in 1990 were an attempt to promote that healing and wholeness.

Over the years, the number of memorials and resolutions brought before our triennial conventions has decreased. There are likely many reasons for that reduction, but a lack of the need for healing and wholeness in our church, society and world is not among them. In fact, I suggest that the need for healing and wholeness is even greater today than in 1990, due in part to our greater abilities to actually bring about the healing and wholeness that we, as a society, ignore.

So, as we prepare for the Tenth Triennial Convention in 2017, what will be the issues we’ll debate? As you gather in synodical conventions this year, what are the issues that you will bring forward in memorials? Where do you see the need for healing? Where is the Holy Spirit calling you and the women of your synodical organization to witness here and now in the twenty-first century? And those of you elected as voting members to the Tenth Triennial Convention, what resolutions will you present? Now is the time to call upon the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds so that we might be aware of the needs and sufferings of our sisters and brothers. May we be inspired, as the women’s organization, to respond.

Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA. This article is in the January/February issue of Gather magazine.