May 3, 2014

We are Church — Together

ELCA Churchwide Representative Judith Roberts discusses how we are the church, together. #weareSEPA

Justice is what love looks like in public.

In keeping with the Assembly’s theme of togetherness and partnership, Judith Roberts, ELCA’s Director of Racial Justice, spoke to the gathering about the initiative We Are Church Together, an ELCA church-wide ministry.

ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton appeared in a brief video discussing a national initiative called Grace in Action. Members of various congregations were shown talking about what that means to them and how they implement it in their lives. “Grace in Action is lots of little things and one community moving forward together,” said one youth. “We teach the Bible by living the Bible,” said another.

Judith Roberts addresses the Assembly

Judith Roberts addresses the Assembly

The video explored the way two churches in Minnesota demonstrate the meaning of “we are church together” by forming a program for second graders and their families called Sowing Seeds. It teaches the urban families about farm life, faith and family as experienced by members of the rural congregation.

“Everybody needs to have somebody,” said Bishop Eaton. “We all do work together in Christ’s work, but we can’t be everywhere. We are one church in more than 9,000 places.

“It’s a diverse, complex world, and people who thought they had nothing in common, come together under the roof of the church. Yes, we can give, but grace is something we all need to receive.”

Roberts highlighted the four strategic messages from Bishop Eaton and encouraged that we all take them to heart and take them out into the world.

“We are church. We are Lutheran, woven together as part of the ELCA. We are church together—all four million members. And we are church for the sake of the world,” said Roberts, and then quoted from Romans 12: 4-5.

For as in one body, we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually, we are members one of another.

Roberts also shared information about several interesting programs already in place or upcoming:

• The publication, Stories of Faith in Action, contains stories of those whose lives have been touched by ELCA ministries.
• Welcome Church in Philadelphia, a church without walls, a program to minister to the homeless that also offers help with finding affordable housing, healthcare, education, employment and leadership development.
• “God’s Work. Our Hands. Sunday,” Sept. 7—a way to put faith in action. Congregations can plan various activities. Visit www.ELCA.org/dayofservice to download a toolkit and to register.

Roberts encouraged her listeners to get involved in the new campaign for the ELCA, Always Being Made New, with goals of educating women, serving globally, ending hunger, overcoming malaria and sending missionaries abroad, and more.

“This campaign is an opportunity to deepen and expand the mission and ministries we’re all committed to,” said Roberts. The five-year campaign has a goal of $198 million to support leadership development and young adults in their faith journeys, among many other worthwhile causes.

“We are Church—Together. We believe God is calling us into the world together,” said Roberts. “May the God of life guide us to lead and be peacemakers.” – Brenda Lange