A recent immersion trip to the southern border of the United States was a “life-changing experience,” Women of the ELCA’s executive board president Lisa Plorin told women at the Conference of Presidents’ meeting in Chicago, Feb. 21-23.
When asked by presidents what God is calling her to do next, Plorin said she wants to “help AMMPARO help others.” AAMPARO (Accompany Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities) is an ELCA strategy.
“Thanks to [Women of the ELCA] and the opportunities I’ve had, my life was impacted overwhelmingly three weeks ago when I was able to visit the border,” said Plorin. She ends her three-year term as president of the churchwide organization in July at the Eleventh Triennial Convention in Phoenix.
Plorin said that the border immersion trip to El Paso, Texas; Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico was emotional, sad, joyful, and life-changing.
“I was so touched.”
State of ministry reports
The 64 presidents or their representatives heard state of the ministry reports from Plorin and Executive Director Linda Post Bushkofsky. They attended workshops about community organizing and immigration issues, learned about proposed constitutional changes, heard staff reports, engaged in Bible study and worshipped together.
Reporting that financial challenges continue to exist, Bushkofsky said that both regular offerings and Thankofferings were down in fiscal year 2019.
She said the books have not closed in FY2019. But with one month to go, “conference and cluster offerings were down, and 20 percent of synodical women’s organizations had not sent in any regular offerings.”
“The organization cannot rely on how things have always been done if it is to grow and thrive into the future,” she said. “That is true in circles, in congregational units, in conferences and clusters, in synodical organizations, in the churchwide organization, within the executive board, and within the staff.
“If we rely on how things have been done before, we will surely bring about the demise of the organization,” she said.
Enliven congregational units
Meanwhile, Plorin challenged the presidents to enliven congregational units in their synods. “If I had a nickel for every time I heard ‘Our unit is not active,’ ‘Our members are old,’ or ‘The interest isn’t there,’ Katie’s Fund would be crazy flourishing.”
A missing link exists between units that are active and excited and those that don’t know what Women of the ELCA does, she said.
One of the organization’s free, downloadable resources, “Six Models for Mission,” (see Six Models for Mission – English and Seis Modelos para la Mision – Espanol) offers different ways to organize and revitalize a unit.
“Challenge yourself to get units active this year,” she said. “Make a goal to boost your active units by a certain percentage by this time next year.
“I love this organization. It’s going to take some legwork, but we want to see it thrive, don’t we?” she asked.
Offerings and gifts
Presidents gave Plorin a journal and a parting gift of $1,870 to designate for a ministry of her choice. She’s chosen to give half to Women of the ELCA to use where needed most and half to AMMPARO.
During the Saturday evening worship service, presidents gave an offering of about $7,000. Half will go to Women of the ELCA’s ongoing ministries, and half to AMMPARO, ministries selected by the conference’s planning team.
The conference theme, “The Power of Community, was drawn from Hebrews 10:24-25: “The Power of Community.”
Photo, clockwise from left: Lisa Plorin, president of Women of the ELCA’s executive board; Lorie Garcia, president of the Southwestern Texas SWO, Pat Bellingham, president of the Northwestern Pennsylvania SWO, Marie Plaisir, from Metro New York SWO, and LaTesa Williams, president of Arkansas-Oklahoma SWO; Region 4 presidents stand before the map. Read more about the border immersion trip Lisa experienced.