That was the menu at Friday’s morning’s Tenth Triennial Gathering’s first-timers breakfast in Minneapolis.
“You came here alone and will leave with 1,300 new friends,” said Linda Post Bushkofsky, executive director of Women of the ELCA, as she welcomed first-timers to the gathering.
Bushkofsky said it’s possible that your “best experience will come from the woman next to you, maybe in the line in the restroom.”
She advised first timers to “look for ways to build community. Chat with women around you in plenary sessions.
“What you learn from each other is as important as what I presenters have to say.”
Bushkofsky acknowledged the week can be grueling, “but we don’t design it for you to do it all. Have a plan.”
Think about Sunday, she said. “You’ll be so excited and inspired. You’re going to go home. You’re ready to set the world on fire, and you’ve figured out what God’s calling you to do or at least you’re on your way to figure that out.”
And then, your family takes over, laundry and dishes happen, and you’re going back to work, she said.
“It’s easy to leave this mountain-top experience and not translate that into something in your life. Think now about what you are going to do as you return.
“Most importantly just have a great time,” she said.
During a question-answer period, first-time participants said they came for a variety of reasons: to accompany and encourage a family member with cancer; because their church offered a scholarship; and because someone invited them.
“We know the No. 1 way women get involved in our organization is by invitation,” Bushkofsky said. “And sometimes those invitations are extended five and 10 times until someone comes and meets in a Bible study and engages in a service project.”
“And the same is true for many of us of how we got to the gathering. I’d like to think of it as a holy persistence.”
Participants of Women of the ELCA, the women’s organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, are in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the Tenth Triennial Gathering (July 14–16).
Photo of Debra Parks, Omaha, Neb., a member of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church (Jim Veneman)