by Angela Bell
I’m not a ‘cradle’ Lutheran. In fact, I’ve only been Lutheran for about seven years.
But in those years, a simple invitation from a loyal Women of the ELCA participant has given me a story I never thought I would tell.
In 2010, my pastor/husband, Andrew Bell, accepted his first call to Unity Lutheran Church in Hickory, N.C., about nine hours from our home in northeast Ohio. There, the women invited me to attend my first Women of the ELCA meeting.
We were in a new job, a new city, a new state with a 2 1/2-year-old daughter, and I went so I could meet new friends.
Newborn twin boys slowed me down for a while. But in 2012, my congregational unit asked me to represent them as a voting member at the North Carolina Synodical Women’s Organization (SWO) convention.
I had no idea what–or who–was waiting for me.
It began with an invitation
Our SWO board offered congregational units free materials to make bags for the Lutheran World Relief school kits. I was the new president of our church’s group, so I signed us up to make school kits.
I am introverted, and meeting new people makes me anxious. Still, I approached several strangers asking them where I could pick up the supplies for the kits.
Finally, a woman suggested I ask Maxine (Amos), who was on the North Carolina SWO executive board. “Maxine knows everything,” she said.
Someone led me to Maxine, and I explained who I was and what I needed. She took one look at me and led me over to a table where she found a scrap of paper. She asked me to write down my name, address and telephone number because she “had plans for me.”
At the time, Maxine was the chairwoman of the Mission: Growth and Leadership (now Discipleship) Committee for the SWO. She invited me to join the committee and took me under her wings.
I spent a year with Maxine on the committee, learning, growing and asking lots of questions. The next year, I asked to be placed on the ballot for secretary of the SWO and was elected. In 2014, I attended my first triennial in Charlotte thanks to my sisters in North Carolina.
My journey is not complete. My family moved to St. John Lutheran Church, Bellville, Texas, for our second call. There, I served as an officer for my cluster and on the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast SWO board. At the Tenth Triennial Convention in Minneapolis in July 2017, voting members elected me to the Women of the ELCA executive board.
Who knew that a simple invitation from Maxine to join one committee would lead to this? I’m grateful for the opportunities her invitation gave me, and I give thanks for her friendship and guidance.
Are you ready to answer God’s call? It can be scary but know that you have sisters ready, willing and able to help you succeed. We are all here for you. All you must do is accept the invitation.
Angela Bell of Bellville, Texas, is serving her first term on the Women of the ELCA executive board.
Photo of Maxine Amos, left, and Angela.