Our Purpose Statement begins with the words, “As a community of women…” and a book I have been reading lately made me think about just what this means to us as an organization. In his book, “Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life”, Abbot Christopher Jamison describes our modern concept of community as lacking the original connections that this word was meant to engender in us. In this digital age, we are now so much more individually independent. If we buy a bike, suddenly we are part of the “cycling community”. If we get a new job, we are now a member of the “professional community.” But just making a purchase or joining a new profession doesn’t mean we have truly invested ourselves in the lives of others. Or as Jamison puts it, “I can claim to have joined a community without having to do the more demanding work of engaging personally with other people: I literally buy community on the cheap.”
This made me think about how much are we as an organization working to connect personally with other women in this community we call Women of the ELCA… and how much are we “doing on the cheap”? Are we practicing the real meaning of community when we only gather with our local circle but decide not to attend our synodical convention? Are we participating in the mutual lives of ministry if we only read about the actions of the Triennial Convention, but never make an effort to contribute our resources to these causes?
As a community of women we have committed ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts, support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world. What are you doing to fulfill this Purpose Statement? What do you contribute to this “community of women”?
Jennifer Michael is the churchwide president of Women of the ELCA for the 2011-2014 triennium. She hails from Pensacola, Florida.