Pastor’s Message |October 2018
Five hundred and one years since the Reformation began, I am glad to say that we still live in a time of ongoing renewal and reformation in the Church. The declarations made by Martin Luther and his colleagues in the northeastern corner of Germany in the early 16th century, calling people back to the essence of the good news of what God has done in Christ and away from the overlay of traditions that blocked this good news, have spread through time and across the globe. This proclamation continues to make an impact in the lives of thousands, and calls people of every race and tribe into the saving knowledge of God in Jesus Christ.
The message Luther and the reformers proclaimed is a message of salvation offered for all humanity, not just those of northeastern Germany, nor the other countries of Europe, nor even of the Western world. Even as we see congregations around us becoming smaller and fewer, I want to assure you that the message that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in God’s Son, Jesus the Christ, continues to grow and spread throughout the world. At this moment the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (our SEPA Synod is partnered with the NE Diocese of Tanzania) is growing tremendously, and needs more and more pastors to assist in the proclamation of the Gospel as well as the administration of the Church.
It was my accidental privilege to ride on the elevator with the Bishop of the Northeast Diocese of Tanzania, The Rev. Dr. Stephen Munga and his wife The Rev. Dr. Anneth Munga at the Service of Installation for our Synod’s new Bishop, The Rev. Patricia C. Davenport on September 22. What a moment of hope and awe it was to see the renewed and blessed face of the Church all around me.
This past May, at our SEPA Synod Assembly, we elected not just a woman, not just an African American, but the first African American woman ever elected to hold the office of Bishop in our denomination, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This is historic. Then barely twenty-four hours later a second African American woman was elected, this time in the South Central Wisconsin Synod, Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld. The face of our church is changing in significant ways, as we visually begin to display the truth that the Gospel is for all people. God is so good!
As we begin this five hundred and second year of the Lutheran Church’s witness to the good news of God in Christ, may we continue to find new ways to proclaim the love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness of God to all people. And let us take comfort and hope in the reality that Christ Who rose from the dead can do anything but fail! Thanks be to God.
Your Sister in Christ,
Pastor Leslie M. Richard