It’s been 19 years since I first became staff of Women of the ELCA. I’ve have had so many great experiences, traveled to many places, and met terrific people during my time in this organization.
I’ve often heard women’s stories about how they first got involved in Women of the ELCA. Their stories included being brought up in the church, being invited by a friend to a Bible study, or attending a triennial gathering or regional event.
In those conversations, I can see the impact Women of the ELCA has made in their lives. I felt a bit jealous that I did not have a story like that to tell. I was born and raised Catholic. I attended church classes and Sunday services, but I didn’t have a women’s group I was part of (or so I thought).
I started working with Women of the ELCA at age 25. I was married five years, and our first daughter (Victoria) was four. During my time with Women of the ELCA, I’ve learned a lot and worked in many areas. I worked with scholarships that enabled women to go back to school and grants that helped women and children living in crisis. I helped with global education and our commitment to end human trafficking.
Invitation to act boldly
Women of the ELCA has nurtured me as I’ve raised a daughter (Victoria), now 23, who is strong in her convictions and bold in her own right. And now I’m raising a second daughter (Valentina) who’ll soon be four. She already has the makings of boldness.
To the organization that has affirmed my gifts, invited me to act boldly, and start all anew, I say thank you!
To the women of this organization who have invited me into their lives by sharing their stories, thank you!
To my colleagues/friends who have been on this journey with me, thank you! I will not say goodbye. Instead, I’ll say, “See you later.”
My commitment is to give back to this organization that has given me so much. As I take another job in the ELCA, I plan to continue contributing my offering to Women of the ELCA so others can know the blessings I’ve experienced.
What’s your story? How did you become involved in Women of the ELCA, and how do you show appreciation for it? Consider becoming a Faithful Friend to this organization that has been a friend to you and helped you grow.
Gabriela Contreras has taken a new job with the Mission Investment Fund of the ELCA. For 10 years, she has served as director for meeting planning for Women of the ELCA.
Photo (l-r) Linda Post Bushkofsky, Women of the ELCA executive director, Sara Larson, churchwide executive board member, Gabriela Contreras and Eva Yeo, staff, at the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering.