The churchwide executive board has set the theme for the 2014 Triennial Gathering in Charlotte, N.C.: of many generations. The theme verse is Isaiah 58:12.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.
- describes who we are: women of many ages, places, and experiences
- reminds us whose we are: women surrounded by generations – those among us now, those who came before and those who will come after
- invites every women to claim her place at the gathering, not despite her age or experience, but because of it
- invites every women to claim her place in Women of the ELCA, not despite her age or experience, but because of it
This theme boldly names what so many see as our current problem – not having enough generations involved in Women of the ELCA. Yet, instead of pointing to a problem, this theme calls us to look around and celebrate how we are already living out this identity. We are not called to be a balanced combination of old women and young women. We are called to be women of many generations, mobilizing each other to act boldly on our faith in Jesus Christ. It is this kind of dynamic, appreciative community that will welcome and accept new people.
This theme situates Women of the ELCA, and the triennial gathering, within Isaiah’s prophecy. We are part of the foundations for future generations. And, we are called to be those who rebuild the ancient ruins, who repair the breach, who restore the streets we live in. The theme invites women to participate in the present-day rebuilding of economies, market places, relationships, neighborhoods and places of worship.
Importantly, Isaiah 58:12 evokes Leymah Gbowee’s challenge at the Eighth Triennial Gathering (2011) to look around at our local surroundings and reclaim the spaces of our own communities as places of transformation, justice and opportunity for women and girls. Isaiah 58:12 paints a picture of what will happen if we follow that call – “you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.