Last Wednesday, the spotlights of every TV news network shined on the Iowa Caucus. I enjoy election coverage, but it threatens to give a false sense of connection with my fellow Americans. For instance, I’m prone to start thinking I understand the residents of an Iowa county just because I watch it change from Romney red to Santorum blue on an interactive CNN map.
So, I’m glad that Women of the ELCA provides an alternative way to focus my attention on the people of Iowa, and every primary state to come. When I saw the Iowa maps on TV, I thought of recent phone calls, conference calls and emails with our Women of the ELCA leaders in Iowa and the other 49 states. We’ve had plenty to discuss, but the election has not come up once. They may care greatly about national politics, but there is so much more to their lives.
My resolution for this election year is to let the election maps and graphs pique my curiosity about the women who are in each state, shaping communities, supporting families and leading organizations. With curiosity piqued, I will try to learn and connect. Did you know that more than 5,600 Iowans subscribe to our magazine, Gather? I didn’t either, until I sent an email to a colleague today. With a little help from a Google search, I’ve already learned a lot more:
- The women’s organization in Western Iowa helped its companion synod in Tanzania to purchase a plantation and convert it into one of the highest-ranked girls secondary schools in the country (13th out of 2000!).
- Women in Southeastern Iowa will gather next month for their annual Winter Retreats at Camp Pilgrim Heights and Camp Wyoming, to study and reflect on spiritual gifts, using the Women of the ELCA resource Gifts for you: Opening your spiritual gifts.
- A new board member in the Northeastern Iowa SWO is the Director of a cooperative ministry serving Clayton County. She lives on a farm and attends the same church where she was baptized as a child.
- All three synodical women’s organizations in Iowa have websites where you can access their newsletters and calendars.
Women of the ELCA, at its best, is a life-changing network of women acting boldly on their faith, throughout the U.S. and in the Caribbean. If the elections of 2012 direct our curiosity toward each other and strengthen our connections, well, that’s an interactive map I’d like to see.
Emma Crossen is Women of the ELCA’s director for stewardship and development.