In less than two months, we’ll be coming together in Phoenix for the Just Love Gathering. Has there been a more anticipated gathering than this one? We left Minneapolis in 2017 on such a justice-inspired high, ready to respond to God’s call to “all anew.” Things rarely work quickly in the church, as we all know. We began our “all anew” work and were building up momentum when the world shut down in March 2020. Little did we imagine what “all anew” would look like in the months and years to follow. Little did we know how the COVID-19 pandemic would exacerbate societal and institutional fissures.
Last week Facebook reminded me of a blog post I wrote shortly after the All Anew Gathering where I summarized the main points from our extraordinary speakers and invited us all into both reflection and action. Here, on this side of All Anew, six years later, I was struck by the call to bring about the change that was—and continues to be—so sorely needed in our church, society, and world.
Whether you were at the All Anew Gathering or not, and whether or not you’ll be in Phoenix for the Just Love Gathering, I invite you to read this six-year-old blog post (and its comments) to see what inspires you and where you—a disciple of Christ–will find your role in loving justly in the months and years to come.
GATHERING’S RENEWAL OFFERS OPPORTUNITY FOR CHANGE
I’m writing today to the 3,322 women who gathered in Minneapolis 12 days ago. Those of you who participated from afar, by following social media and reading news releases, I’m talking to you, too. From social media posts and emails received, you’ve described the gathering as “transformational” and “energizing,” “an opportunity for “spiritual renewal.”
So when Monday, July 17th rolled around, and you were at work or shuttling kids back and forth or doing the laundry, was anything different because you had been at the gathering? Because you had heard the speakers, walked the labyrinth, worshiped together, dug into workshops, applied your gifts in servant events?
Were you seeing the world with new eyes? Offering up altered prayers? Sensing the needs of neighbors in a different way? Even recognizing that your definition of “neighbors” had changed?
REMEMBER THE WORDS THAT WE HEARD
We are daughters of a troublemaker, Kelly Fryer told us. We are called to follow Jesus’ example of standing with those on the margins, even at great risk to one’s own personal comfort or reputation. Doing that, Fryer reminded us, is to stand side by side with Jesus.
Anew is not an event, Leymah Gbowee informed us. It is a process. And Jesus renews us all daily to do his work. It is in working together, not in a silo, that we will bring change to a world plagued by racism, violence and greed.
While we Lutheran Christian women are good at mercy, we must move into justice work, Alexia Salvatierra implored. We are called to treat each other as family, exercising both compassion and justice.
Being a Christian is not easy or comfortable. If you are comfortable in Jesus, Angela Khabeb warned us, you are doing it wrong. God of the universe blesses everyone.
My continuing prayer for us, both individually and collectively as the organization known as Women of the ELCA, is that we latch onto this “all anew” momentum and work to bring about the change that is so sorely needed in our church, the society and the world.
I’m ready. Will you join me?
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA. Photo by Jim Veneman of Leymah Gbowee linking arms with participants to symbolize linking across color and creed and ethnicity for the humanity of the world.