Tag Archives: WELCA

WOMEN CALLED TO CONNECT, BOND, AND HEAL IN A BROKEN WORLD By Tammy Barthels, M.Div Intern

I had the privilege to hear Edwina Gateley speak at the Women of the ELCA Wisconsin River Valley Conference Spring Event. Edwina founded the Genesis House – a house of hospitality and nurturing for women involved in prostitution in Chicago IL. The Genesis House until 2006 became a model program for women recovering from prostitution in the Midwest. Sophia’s Circle, an offshoot of Genesis House, provides ongoing support to help the women sustain their recovery through retreats, counseling, small emergency loans and sisterhood. Edwina is also the founder of The Voluntary Missionary Movement which sends missionaries to work in the developing world. She has authored 14 books, 3 CD’s and a DVD. Edwina has also been featured on CBS’s “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours.”

Edwina explored with enthusiasm and awe how God as lover and healer invites people to new possibilities and to believe in their potential to make a difference in our world.

She began the event by giving statistics such as:
7 million children go hungry everyday in the USA
1 in 3 girls will be abused before the age of 18
2% of the world’s population hold all its wealth

Edwina then said that she believed the definition for sin is “being out of balance.”

“We are the Mothers, Birth Wives, Daughters called to do what we can to balance things. Compassion and Love are the fundamental messages of the Gospel. Our call is to keep going and to never give up.

“God is inviting us to wholeness, to new possibilities and to open up and take action. We need to stand up and look fear in the face. We as women need to do what we think we cannot do. We are blessed at this time to speak the wisdom from deep within. Faith can’t be taught but only caught by the fire within us that God has given us. Our light must shine.

“Now is the time to speak our truth and to stand up for injustice. We are not to be the cheerleaders but the doers. The ones who will reach out with compassion; 96% of change and transformation happens with compassion. Change does not happen with war or legislation but with love. How hot is your love for justice? How will you fan the fire and make a change today?

“We are all called to be Mothers of God, to give birth to something new. It requires courage to be passionate and to go against the status quo. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: ‘Courage in women is often mistaken in women for insanity.’

“In a world of fear and imbalance we as women, midwives, and daughters must not give up. We must speak to the young and offer them alternatives to war and hatred. We must not be part of the diminishment but be part of the change. Blessed are they who never compromise their faith or their integrity. We must be so connected to the Gospel that we will not be compromised.”

The ongoing violence against women continues, the cycle of anger and violence continues because there is no love. The Church must be a holding room of intense love and compassion. We cannot fix it all, but we can be an intense place of light and love. How will we as women of the church fan the fire of love and compassion today? It is a conscious journey. How will we respond?

ELCA CHURCHWIDE ASSEMBLY GREETING by Jennifer Michael, WELCA President, 1st Year MDiv

WELCA President Jennifer Michael gave this address to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly gathered in Pittsburg, PA this past August. (Beginning at 03:23:00 in Plenary Nine)

Hello everyone… My name is Jenny Michael and as president of Women of the ELCA, I bring you greetings on behalf of our churchwide executive board, our executive director, Linda Post-Bushkofsky, our churchwide staff and the over 250,000 active participants of Women of the ELCA.

Some of you may be familiar with who we are as an organization… but I think that there are also a number of you who are unaware of what a valuable partner that Women of the ELCA continues to be for this church.  I heard from a friend this week who said that one of the voting members from her synod posted a remark about the gift you received from the Women of the ELCA… saying that he didn’t even know who we were… Well, I am here to answer that very question!

If you read our Purpose Statement, then you will know that we are a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship through Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit.  And each day we strive to make connections with women that will strengthen their gifts for leadership and service.

As an independent and totally self-funded organization, Women of the ELCA publishes many free downloadable faith resources each year used by small groups and congregations; we provide training and support for racial justice advocacy and we support many ecumenical efforts to eliminate poverty and hunger; and as an organization we sponsor special events that provide fellowship, renewal and spiritual growth for women.

And before I go on… I need one minute to give you a little infomercial about one of the events that is just on the horizon for Women of the ELCA… It is our 9th Triennial Convention and Gathering in Charlotte, NC in July 2014.  If you have never experienced this event, then you will just have to trust me!  It is without question the absolute best place for a Lutheran woman to be… There are enriching workshops and bible study and there are soul-stirring worship moments where you can listen to the collective voices of over 2000 Lutheran women singing their praises to God!  And the speakers… well, let me just say that in 2011, we hosted Leymah Gbowee just before she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  And in 2008, a certain female bishop from Northeastern Ohio gave such a rousing sermon during closing worship that brought us all to a standing ovation!  With that kind of track record, I imagine that our upcoming speakers are wondering just what God has in store for them after they speak at the Triennial Gathering!

So, please mark your calendars and make plans to join us from Thursday, July 24th through Sunday, July 27th in Charlotte, North Carolina for the 9th Triennial Gathering of Women of the ELCA.

Okay, so that was the infomercial part… and a good one… but still, back to that question of just who are we as Women of the ELCA?

To some of you, we are only that ladies knitting group that meets every Tuesday at 10AM… to some of you, we are only the hands that prepare the funeral dinners and make sure the kitchens are well stocked…

But to me, we are also the women’s circle group from Western North Dakota who decided to begin a prison quilt ministry.  Knowing that everyone can uncover a heart for service, these women go once a month to the prison with their sewing machines and donated material… and they sew quilts together with female prisoners that are then donated to Lutheran World Relief and in the process help these women to connect back a portion of their own humanity.  We are social advocates…

To me, we are the first organization in the ELCA to have a smartphone app with Daily Grace and the first in the ELCA to provide a digital tablet app of our magazine Gather … which I’ve been told you all have been enjoying on your notebooks this week.   You’re welcome!  We are visionaries…

To me, we are those delicious cookies that you have been enjoying all week… Now I know I can get an “AMEN” on that one!  You may not know this, but all of these cookies have been provided the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synodical Women’s Organization… when the call was sent out, we were there!  We are hospitality…

And then again, to me… Women of the ELCA is a sisterhood where we are in deep relationship with one another… an organization that can provide comfort and support through Facebook to a recent widow… we are that community that nurtures and empowers a young woman of color to serve on a synodical board… and to me, Women of the ELCA has been a transformational force in my own spiritual life, helping me to recognize a call to public ministry.  We are spiritual change agents…

So you ask, “Just who are the Women of the ELCA?”  I say we are ground-breaking, justice-preaching, soul-giving women who are vital partners in the ministry of this church!

In the past 25 years, we have:

  • Supported and sustained over 7,000 congregational units
  • Won over 150 awards for excellence for resources, content, programming and publications produced by Women of the ELCA.
  • Provided over $500,000 in scholarships to Lutheran women
  • Given over $3.5 million in grants to ministries both internationally and here at home
  • And in the past 25 years, as an independent and totally self-funded organization we have contributed more than $16 million toward the ongoing ministries of the ELCA.

This is who we are as Women of the ELCA… We ARE that place in the church that provides the space and opportunity for connections of purpose and faith to happen.  Please consider what your relationship to Women of the ELCA might be in the coming year… and how you can add your voice to this community to see what we can do together!

Thank you!