A couple of years ago, I didn’t understand WELCA. After a few years abroad and a separation from the church, I couldn’t understand the alphabet soup that represented women’s ministry. I’m a lifelong Lutheran, but I’d never heard of WELCA (Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).
A few months later, the WELCA coordinator at my church asked if I’d like to attend the Florida-Bahamas 2014 fall gathering. I didn’t know what to expect, but our church would pay my way.
Why not? I cleared my schedule and arrived at Lake Yale with a full suitcase and empty expectations.
Imagine my surprise when I was welcomed by the most loving, inviting and affirming women. Linda Post Bushkofsky (Women of the ELCA’s executive director) was there, and she went out of her way to be kind. I was floored by the presentation women from Reconciling Works gave. The ELCA of my childhood spoke of homosexuality in hushed tones. This new ELCA spoke boldly of inclusion, love and affirmation.
I attended the fall gathering again in 2015, and to my surprise I was voted to help represent the synod at the Tenth Triennial Gathering (2017) in Minneapolis.
Also, Florida-Bahama SWO President Phyllis Wade asked me to attend the January 2016 board meeting. I wasn’t sure what role I could play, but I loved the chance to find out. I was impressed that an organization struggling financially would invest money to invite a newbie to its leadership meeting. It was a bold move and a smart one.
I offered feedback and my suggestions were taken seriously. I learned a great deal about the organization and gained more respect for how hard these women work.
[bctt tweet=”To a younger woman of color, the Lutheran church has not always been the most welcoming place for me.”]
My hope for WELCA, as a new member, is that the organization will preserve its unique spirit while reaching out to women from all walks of life. To a younger woman of color, the Lutheran church has not always been the most welcoming place for me.
For the fall gathering this year, I will present a session on intergenerational friendship. We hear a great deal about the generation gap between older and younger women, and how conflicts arise when older women want to preserve traditions that may or may not fit into the changed lifestyles of younger women.
Instead of focusing on the differences, why not find the positive? We have a proud tradition going back several generations, and women in the ELCA have stepped up to more leadership roles in the church. We are lucky to have WELCA to affirm and nourish all women in the church, young and old.
I’m excited to see what blessings WELCA can bring into all of our lives. Aren’t you?
Mirim Kim is a doctoral candidate at University of South Florida who specializes in family communication. She is a member of Grace Lutheran Church, Tampa, Fla.
Photo by Elizabeth McBride from the Ninth Triennial Gathering, of many generations. Left to right: Flor Hernandez, her mother, Linda McElroy Thomas, Jone Stout and her daughter, Jessica Morgan.
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