When Accompaniment Becomes a Calling
I had the great privilege of growing up in a congregation that sent dozens of men and women on to seminary to serve as pastors, deacons, missionaries or parish workers. Like some congregations today, back then St. John Lutheran Church in Fremont, Ohio had a rich culture of call. Parents, pastors, Sunday School teachers, choir directors, older youth and elders played a role in helping me and my peers understand the concept of vocation. We knew that God had important work for us to do within our families and in the world. While other classmates discovered that their vocation would be as a teacher or mechanic, a journalist or a business leader, over time I slowly realized that God was calling me to serve as a pastor. When I was ready to take the next step and enter seminary, the congregation was there to cheer me on and support me financially.
Earlier in March, I joined the other bishops of the ELCA in naming this work of creating a culture of call and lifting up the vocation of those who are needed to serve the church as deacons, pastors and lay leaders as one of two priorities for us in the church today. The other priority is supporting vital faith communities, which goes hand-in-hand with raising up leaders for the church.
To keep those priorities before us, the Conference of Bishops is inviting every congregation to pray weekly and every household to pray daily that the Spirit would help us see, encourage and prepare the people God needs to lead the church in these times. You can read more about this initiative and find sample prayers for Sundays and to guide your devotions. Additional resources for the ELCA's Leadership Initiative are at www.elca.org/leaders.
If you have other ideas of how we can deepen and broaden a culture of call across this synod, send me an email. I'd love to hear your ideas. I hope you'll join me prayer and in creating a culture of call.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop Patricia Lull