by Linda Post Bushkofsky
Editor’s note: Today’s blog post tells one woman’s story about her mother’s influence, the kind of influence that can be honored with a gift to 2122: Growing Katie’s Fund for the next 100 years. The time to make such a gift is now as part of the $25,000 Mother’s Day Challenge given by Barbara Thistle. Barbara served on the Women of the ELCA Churchwide Executive Board from 2017 – 2021. She is part of the Metro New York Synodical Women’s Organization and has served there as both president and treasurer. The goal of this challenge is to raise an additional $25,000 for Katie’s Fund by Wednesday, May 31. All new gifts and pledges given between April 13 – May 31 will be matched, up to $25,000. Who will you honor or remember with a gift?
Ask nearly any woman how she got involved in Women of the ELCA, and her response will include repeated invitations from another woman. An aunt, a grandmother, a mentor. For Joy Grace, of Downingtown, Pennsylvania, it was her mother.
“I want you to go to a gathering with me,” Joyce Saeger told daughter Joy. Joyce had been involved in Lutheran Church Women and Women of the ELCA and knew the power of women’s organizations. “Your sister is going too.”
Joy had lots of reasons to say no—she had young children, she couldn’t afford the trip, there wasn’t a women’s group in her congregation. But her mother persisted. Some persistence is stronger than others.
“Essentially, my mother bullied me,” Joy says with a laugh. Joy conceded, joining her mother and sister at the 2008 triennial gathering in Salt Lake City. And life has never been the same.
“I said it was my allergies,” Joy begins, explaining how she cried at every worship service at the gathering. “I was overwhelmed at the opening worship service. It was amazing. Women were doing everything, and I had never seen anything like that before. There was such power!”
It wasn’t just the worship that carried such an impact. There was the chance to sing in the gathering choir directed by the Rev. April Urling-Larson and the chance to meet Sister Joan Chittister, one of the plenary speakers. Attending workshops, buying (and eating!) Fair Trade chocolate, meeting other women from across the country – these were just some of the many things that rounded out the gathering experience shared with her sister and mother.
When Joy returned home after the gathering, she told everyone who would listen about her experiences. “Every time I spoke, I was overcome and got emotional again.”
Her triennial gathering experiences led Joy to become involved in Women of the ELCA. Joy made many presentations about the gathering, and one of those presentations inspired a woman in Joy’s congregation to serve on their synodical board. A couple of years later that same woman asked Joy if she’d like to serve on the synodical board, telling Joy “I have big plans for you!” Big plans indeed. Joy served on the board of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod and later served as its president.
“Ever since that first gathering I attended, I’ve had a need to do something with Women of the ELCA, even if my desire has been greater than my ability at times.”
Now Joy is serving on the Leadership Team of 2122: Growing Katie’s Fund for the next 100 years. “I was flattered to be asked, and it was the right ask at the right time. This is a way to make a difference,” Joy says. “Being able to expand my passion for the organization and use some of my skills to tell people about the campaign – it is so appealing to me.”
What is Joy’s message to potential campaign donors? “Women of the ELCA is so important to me, and I’m excited to be part of it. We are a valuable and important organization that is so worthy of support. Your gift can open someone’s world up to new opportunities, to life-changing opportunities. Women of the ELCA is a safe place. A transformational place. Won’t you join me in supporting Katie’s Fund?”
To learn more about 2122: Growing Katie’s Fund for the next 100 years, go to welca.org/katiesfund. Won’t you join me and Joy Grace and hundreds of other women in growing Katie’s Fund?
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director.