by Sue Lyons
Women of the ELCA’s 2020 Gathering will be the fifth one I have attended, and I can’t wait! I “JUST LOVE” seeing so many women with such varied backgrounds coming together for worship, fellowship, and all the experiences that a triennial gathering can provide.
I “JUST LOVE” the speakers and workshops. I “JUST LOVE” interacting with my sisters in faith, from light conversation during a meal to sharing ideas for service projects. I “JUST LOVE” knowing that I am part of something so much bigger than myself. To sum it up, I “JUST LOVE” triennial gatherings.
Come to the Waters
My first gathering was Salt Lake City in 2008, where we were invited to “Come to the Waters” and celebrate our baptism. The experience left me thirsty for more spiritual opportunities like this.
Renew, Respond, Rejoice
In 2011, I went to Spokane to “Renew, Respond, Rejoice.” Participants were invited to connect with our Lutheran sisters, celebrate our Christian faith, and discover our heart for service.
It was in Spokane that I was first heard and was inspired by Leymah Gbowee. Leymah, an amazing paragon of faith and strength, had, along with two other Liberian women, received the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her work in leading a women’s peace movement that brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003.
of many generations
Charlotte welcomed women “of many generations” to the 2014 Gathering. We celebrated the generations of women who have helped transform the lives of others. During one worship service, the pastor recalled the parable of the woman whose small amount of yeast yielded a large batch of bread.
“Yeast, starting as a small morsel, worked by the hands of this faithful woman, has its way, and transforms everything. So, with the morsel, God sets about leavening the world.” We were challenged to go beyond our church doors to reach out to women in need, especially those held captive in human trafficking.
“All Anew” was the theme for the 2017 Gathering in Minneapolis. It was a wonderful opportunity to be energized, renewed, and transformed spiritually. The speakers were amazing, and Leymah Gbowee joined us once again. At our final worship service, the Rev. Angela Khabeb exclaimed: “News flash! Christianity is not comfortable. If you are comfortable in Jesus, you’re doing it wrong.”
We were commissioned to move forward into the world, knowing that, even though we are imperfect, often broken, and rough around the edges, we are one body in Christ.
“We are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
Now it’s time to get ready for Phoenix in July! And, you know, it will be one of the coolest, most refreshing experiences you will ever have. You will “JUST LOVE” it! Check it out at welcatg.org.
This article by Sue Lyons, vice president of the Lower Susquehanna Synodical Women’s Organization, first appeared in the SWO’s January/February newsletter, News & Views.
Feature photo: Sue Lyons, left, Helen Henninger, center, and Lois Ann Griffiths, president of the Lower Susquehanna SWO, participate in the Gathering 2017 Run, Walk & Roll.