I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:3-6, NRSV)
by Jennifer Michael
The letter to the Philippians is said to be the Apostle Paul’s most joyful letter of thanksgiving for a community of faith. Not only is this community providing solid material support for Paul’s ministry, but they are also exhibiting the kind of unity that he has worked so hard to foster within the early Christians.
And so when I thought about how to offer a word of gratitude for Women of the ELCA selecting me to receive a Herbert W. and Corinne Chilstrom Scholarship to support my theological education, I saw a parallel between this early Christian community and my sisters within the organization.
It is true that this scholarship is a way to offset some of my costs for theological education. But it is much more than that.
It is a resounding affirmation that my gifts for ministry are needed for the life of this church.
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In my years being a part of this vibrant community of women, you have each nurtured me and supported me in my calling.
Every moment of my life within this organization has resonated with our purpose statement–so much so that now when I am on the cusp of completing my theological education and hopefully receiving a call to ordained ministry in this church, I know that it is because of the faithfulness of each of you that I can be who I am today.
You have shared the gospel with me. Your good work through Christ has made it possible for me to live into my baptismal call. You are a treasure to my life, my sisters.
Women of the ELCA’s scholarship program has helped so many women realize their true potential and provided them the opportunity to fulfill their vocation as Martin Luther encouraged.
You—who support the program with your gifts–are the catalyst for change in the lives of hundreds of women who are able to make a difference in the life of our world!
[bctt tweet=”You are the catalyst for change in the lives of hundreds of women…” username=”womenoftheelca”]
So I say to you: Thank you for your confidence in me. Thank you for this affirmation of my gifts for ministry. But most importantly, thank you for continuing to support other women as they seek their own path. I will continue to “constantly pray in joy” for the gift that is Women of the ELCA.
Jennifer Michael is in her final year as a master of divinity student at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. She served as churchwide president for WELCA from 2011-2014. The photo is of Michael with ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton at the 2014 triennial convention as Michael relinquishes her presidency to new churchwide president Patti Austin.
Women of the ELCA begins today through Feb. 15 accepting scholarship applications. Scholarships support Lutheran women of all ages pursue their vocations as ministers, teachers, doctors, business leaders, and scientists. Your dollars help to continue and expand this important ministry.