Some thoughts on our 25th anniversary
The following is an address given by Linda Post Bushkofsky, executive director, at the 2012 Convention of the Caribbean Synodical Women’s Organization. The convention met November 9-11, 2012 at Nazareth Lutheran Church, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Twenty-five years ago women like you and me gathered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and started a new thing — Women of the ELCA. While this organization bears a resemblance to Lutheran women’s organizations of the past, Women of the ELCA is something new … and over the past 25 years we’ve been shaping this organization into an amazing community of women who are mobilizing ourselves and other women to act boldly on our faith in Jesus Christ.
How we accomplish that differs from place to place, creating an extraordinary tapestry of service and study, advocacy and assistance, discipleship and devotion.
- Together we have supported women and girls around the globe with grants totaling more than $3 million dollars, funding after school programs and mammograms, legal aid for domestic violence victims and training programs for immigrants, to name just a few.
- Together we have provided scholarships totaling more than $500,000 for Lutheran women in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs.
- We’ve gathered monthly in Bible studies, immersing ourselves in God’s word as we move through births and deaths, new jobs and lay-offs, marriages and divorces, and all the other joys and sorrows that life brings.
- We’ve served meals following funerals, baked cakes and cookies for sales, ate our share of hoagies, pizzas and the like to support the youth of our congregations.
- We’ve served meals in homeless shelters and packed lunches for work crews in hurricane cleanups.
- We’ve supported farmers and artisans around the world through our fair trade efforts.
- We’ve worked to eradicate land mines and supported heart health through federal legislations.
- We’ve made quilts to keep our brothers and sisters warm and we’ve knit prayers into prayer shawls for those in need of prayer.
Whether we gather weekly, monthly, a few times each year … or even gather in an online community, when we gather we recognize that we are created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We’re not just any group of women, we are holy women!
As Women of the ELCA we have a challenging agenda before us, but we know that we can meet our mission because our God walks with us and supports us in all that we do.
- We commit ourselves to grow in faith and we do that by worshiping regularly, praying, studying the Bible, talking with other people of faith, keeping up with the news.
- We commit to affirm our gifts and we do that by first learning what our gifts are and how they differ from one another and we do that by using our gifts and not down-playing them or ignoring them.
- We commit ourselves to support one another in our callings … whatever our callings may be … mother, teacher, nurse, grandmother, officer worker, lawyer, politician, artist … and especially those who are called to some form of ministry such as a pastor.
- We commit ourselves to engage in ministry and action … and here’s where it gets so glorious because there are so many ministries and actions in which we can serve … and if we still have breath, no matter our age, we can and must engage in ministry and action.
- We commit ourselves to promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society and the world. We know only too well what depth of healing is needed in our personal and corporate lives … and we know, too, that promoting healing and wholeness is a day-to-day endeavor, and one that is never finished. This will require our faith, our gifts, working in our own unique callings … and all types of ministry and action.
Think back to when you were 25 years old. How did you feel? Wasn’t there a certain amount of excitement? Excitement because you were on your own, master of your own universe, of course. And excitement, too, because it seemed as if you could do anything you wanted to do. There was probably a little hesitancy too — how will I manage financially, how will I know which way is best for me?
I think of our organization a bit like that today. It’s an exciting time because our future is incredibly bright with all kinds of possibilities. We’re not totally sure which is the best way to move forward or how we’ll finance everything we want to do. But as a community of women, created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish! May this blessed 25th anniversary inspire us into the next 25 years of mobilizing women to act boldly on their faith in Jesus Christ.