Even in the best of times, we humans crave community. For Lutheran Christians, it is part of our spiritual DNA. We want to be with and care for others. Living within the new realities wrought by a global pandemic, many of us now crave community more than ever. So, along the lines of everything-old-is-new-again, how about a letter-writing project to sustain community?
English poet and Anglican cleric John Donne said it best: “…More than kisses, letters mingle souls.”
Receiving a handwritten letter is so special, like receiving a gift. They have become a bit novel in our digital age, but they do sustain community. When my parents were first married, during World War II, my father was shipped overseas. He and my mother wrote to each other every day. Before text messages, emails, or even cheap phone calls, these letters sustained their fledgling relationship for more than a year. Lucky for us, the Women of the ELCA’s Dear Friend in Christ project doesn’t require daily letter writing!
A simple project
Dear Friend in Christ is a simple project. You start by writing a letter using the salutation, “Dear Friend in Christ.” Fill a page or two, however you are inspired. Among other things, we invite you to share your thoughts about two questions: How is your faith in Jesus Christ sustaining you during the global pandemic? What words of encouragement can you offer the person who receives your letter? Your letter can be handwritten or typed. You can remain anonymous or you can identify yourself. Maybe you’d like to include a drawing, photo, recipe, prayer card, or something else to boost the spirits of the recipient. (You can read some of the letters here.)
You print and sign the Dear Friend in Christ release form at welca.org/dearfriend (or complete it online) and then place the release form and letter in an envelope and mail it to Dear Friend in Christ, Women of the ELCA, 8765 W. Higgins Road, Chicago IL 60631.
When you write to Dear Friend in Christ, your letter will be swapped with a letter from another writer. They will get your letter; you will get their letter. The exchange is anonymous (unless you provide your contact information), so you can share as little or as much information about yourself as you like. Letters are paired at random, and we will try to match participants with someone in a different geographical part of the ELCA. Letters are mailed on a rolling basis.
Mail your letters by October 15
Women of the ELCA staff read all letters before the exchange happens. And when writers grant permission, snippets of letters have been posted on welca.org/dearfriend.
We began this letter-writing project back in May, but there’s still plenty of time for you to participate. Letters should be mailed by October 15, 2020, to have them distributed by the end of the project, All Saints Day, November 1, 2020.
Nothing fancy is required to participate. Sure, you can use a beautiful set of stationery or handmade paper. A sheet of notebook paper works just as well. The idea is to sustain our community, and all that is needed are your words.
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA. This blog is Linda’s Grace Notes column in Gather’s September 2020 issue.