Chicago’s summer of 2009 was one of rain, grey skies, and unseasonably cold weather. My tomatoes are mushy and my herb garden is full of blight. But it was brightened by an extraordinary young woman who worked with Women of the ELCA as a summer intern: Katie Nelson.
Katie, a recent college graduate, spent time with us this summer working on a variety of projects. The daughter and granddaughter of Lutheran pastors, Katie has a wonderful faith legacy that she shared with us daily. In contrast to our chilly Chicago summer, Katie brought a ray of sunshine, sharing her deep spirituality, knowledge of scripture, and experiences of growing up in a close-knit missionary family in Africa.
Her generous and joyful nature also saw her getting along well with everyone in the office and joining us for lunches and staff-led Bible studies. Evidently Katie learned a lot, too, because here’s what she told me:
“Interning for Women of the ELCA has been an incredible experience. From making phone calls to reading the latest Lutheran Woman Today magazine, Café article, and other resources, it’s been so interesting to see how these things come together. A highlight of this internship was the opportunity to speak with women about the challenges and best practices in women’s ministry. I learned a lot from these conversations, and I’m so moved by the examples of women who are boldly living out their faith in action!
“I’m convinced that Women of the ELCA is relevant to women of all ages, because it inspires and equips people to live out Christ’s love in learning and service. I think one of the best things about this summer has been growing in my understanding of the role of women in local congregations, as well as the different ways women are leaders in their communities.”
When I saw this vibrant 20-something getting on so well with the 30-, 40-, 50- and 60-something women on our staff, I learned that age is no barrier to a faith community, to Christ’s love, to learning God’s word, to doing God’s work.
Some of us found ourselves discussing vocation, scripture, theology, and justice with Katie, learning from her studies and life experiences. And I saw that the ability of disparate women to unite through God’s grace was a beautiful thing.
So the thought that comes to mind now is: Isn’t bringing together disparate groups of people something Jesus did regularly? And something we all should want for our faith communities?
And if you’re not already, how might you bring different generations of women together in your Women of the ELCA group?
P.S.: Katie had one more thing she wanted to share after her summer internship with us: “My advice for other college students out there: Apply for this internship!”
Mary La Plante is director for marketing, Women of the ELCA.