by Phyllis Wade
When the women at the Florida-Bahamas *SWO convention elected me president, I shared memories of family gatherings at my maternal grandparents’ farm in Alabama.
Some of my fondest memories include gathering around Granny’s kitchen table after everyone had eaten. It was around that kitchen table that my mom, aunts and grandmother shared their joys, their sorrows, their laughter and their tears.
Around that table, they supported and encouraged each other. It was an honor to be old enough to get an invitation to join them.
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As a young mother, it was around that table that I received advice—sometimes unsolicited—but always with love. When my oldest was leaving home for the first time, my mom couldn’t understand why it was so hard for me. It was at that kitchen table that one of my aunts reached out her hand and said, “I get it.”
Those women also taught me that we could make a difference in this world. Many times I saw them share what little they could spare to help someone in need. It might be a few dollars, vegetables out of a garden, something they had canned or frozen, clothes or fabric. They pooled what they could so I learned that even when we share a little bit, it makes a difference.
As Women of the ELCA, we also gather around tables. Our tables are not always “kitchen tables.” Often they are tables in a fellowship hall or Sunday school classroom, a restaurant or a coffee table in someone’s living room. We even use social media as a virtual table.
Our tables are as diverse as we are. We gather for Bible study; we gather to tie quilts or put together kits for Lutheran World Relief. We gather to plan meetings about how we can make a difference in this world.
For me, Women of the ELCA is like the women who gathered for so many years around that kitchen table in Alabama.
Whatever the reason for us to gather around a table today, we share our joys, our heartaches, our concerns, like we did at my grandmother’s table. We offer and receive understanding, encouragement, support, acceptance.
As important as all the many ministries we support, this simple love and concern for one another are among the most essential. Women of the ELCA is so remarkable because we are sisters who love, support, affirm and pray for each other.
Phyllis Wade is president of the Florida-Bahamas *Synodical Women’s Organization and a member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Download the free Women of the ELCA resource “Hospitality: More than warm and friendly.”