One Sunday after I’d joined St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Paducah, Ky., Mrs. Lillie Vannerson was the one who offered an invitation: “I’ll see you at our women’s meeting next Sunday after late service,” she said. “Bring a dish to share.”
Later, she offered another invitation: “You will be our congregation’s delegate to the convention this year, Liz.”
Mrs. Lillie’s words were the beginning of a journey that has affirmed me in my faith and in this church. Little did I know that this was a momentous convention in the Indiana-Kentucky Synod—the merger of three predecessor denominations into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. What did I know about a constituting convention in 1987? It looked as though I was about to find out.
My husband and I traveled to Indianapolis. He dropped me off at the hotel, and once inside, I found the registration table, signed in and received my badge. As I walked toward the opened doors of the ballroom where the ELCA constituting convention would be held, I was just a bit apprehensive.
[bctt tweet=”I looked for a familiar face, one that looked like mine, one of color. “]
Standing in the doorway, I looked around at all the women standing, sitting and chatting. I looked for a familiar face, one that looked like mine, one of color. I didn’t see that familiar face. So I took a step back, not sure that I wanted to be a part of this group of women.
In the next moment, I felt a faint touch on my arm and I turned to see the smiling face of another woman, welcoming me. “My name is Shirley, and I’m so glad you are here,” she said. “Let me go with you, and we’ll find a place to sit.” Relief!
Here was a woman welcoming me, who was glad that I was there. We can all do the same.
Elizabeth Gaskins of Spenser, Ind., is a 2017 triennial gathering promoter and a former Women of the ELCA executive board member.
Photo by Jim Veneman from Ninth Triennial Gathering