June 2019

Post date: May 29, 2019 6:44:24 PM

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We had a good synod assembly in Boise, the weekend of May 17-19. Ethan Bergman and I were your voting members. The emphasis was global mission and we gathered under the theme, “We walk together.” As Bishop Kristen Kuempel said in her sermon during opening worship, “We walk together, or we don’t walk at all.” This is an important message for Christians and all people in a world that is tending more toward fear and isolation.

We enjoyed great global music at the synod assembly and our Eastern Washington Idaho Synod will soon have a new name. Come August, we will be the Northwest Intermountain Synod! We needed a more inclusive name, since we have two congregations in the Jackson Hole area of Wyoming, and the ELCA congregation in Ontario, Oregon just joined our Synod. It will take a while to get used to saying “Northwest Intermountain Synod”, but the inclusive name will help us to walk together.

It was great to see again Pastors Moses Nwaka and Eliud Payowela, our brothers from our companion synod, Ulanga Kilombero, in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania. Moses and Eliud add the words, “Bega kwa bega” to the phrase “we walk together.” “Bega kwa bega” means “shoulder to shoulder”. What a great image of accompaniment that is! We walk together shoulder to shoulder in the love and mission of Jesus Christ our Savior.

Our synod also has a domestic sister synod. I and many others often forget this. Our domestic companion synod is Greater Milwaukee. It was good to have with us Bishop Paul Erickson from Greater Milwaukee and he preached at the closing worship service. In his message he shared this African proverb. “If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.” This is a good proverb for me, since I often tend to walk too fast. Clearly this proverb is not limited to the physical act of walking, but applies to many aspects of life, including church life. Walking together and working together may be slower and messier, but it is definitely more loving and inclusive and joyful than going it alone. Walking together, we support and encourage each other and we can go a lot further than if we tried to go it alone. “If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.” “We walk together or we don’t walk at all.” “Bega kwa bega” we walk together.

I attended the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services workshop. LIRS has been working in the U.S. for over a century helping to settle refugees of war and conflict. LIRS accompanies people, offers counseling and legal help, language help, and helps connect people with food, clothing, housing, jobs and transportation. After WWII, LIRS settled many refugees here from Germany and Lativia. During and after the Vietnam War, LIRS settled many S.E. Asian refugees, with the help of many sponsoring churches. Right now, LIRS is helping the many immigrants from Central America, especially in the efforts to reunite children with parents. “We walk together, or we don’t walk at all.” “Bega kwa bega, we walk together”. As we follow the great command of Jesus to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, we can be sure that our Savior walks with us.

Peace in Christ, Pastor Dennis