Being Stewards of Women of the ELCA

They were once identified as The Woman’s Home and Foreign Missionary Society; later they were called The Lutheran Church Women.  Today they are known as Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  No matter their name, though, the “women’s groups” in our congregations and synod, are committed to Bible study and outreach ministries.

What a gift the circles, congregational units and the synodical organization of Women of the ELCA are to the people of the Allegheny Synod.  The purpose statement of this vital and vibrant ministry in all its expressions – congregation, synod and churchwide - is:

As a community of women created in the image of God, called to

discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit,

we commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts, support one

another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote

healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world.

Women in our congregations live out this purpose statement by gathering regularly and faithfully for study of Scripture and reflection on its application to the life of discipleship.  Personally I have found their study material to be excellent resources for women and men!  Additionally, gathering in circles, in congregational units, as a synodical organization, and at the Triennial Conventions affords women a wonderful opportunity to grow relationships, be affirmed, empowered, and supported in their life as disciples of Jesus.  The result of that Biblical study/reflection and community building is a variety of ministries whose primary focus more often than not is women and children living in poverty and foreign missions.

A major project for women in the Allegheny Synod is the annual Blanket Sunday sponsored in cooperation with the Synod’s Global Mission Team.  Blankets and money are collected for persons all over the world.  Many of our congregations have a group of “knotty ladies” that work all year long knotting and sewing quilts and blankets to ship to people across the globe through Lutheran World Relief.  What a powerful ministry!

But they are involved in more ministries!  Remember the initial nudge a few years ago in our congregations to purchase fair trade coffee?  It is likely that encouragement was initiated by the women of your congregation.  Note too their collaborative work with the Synod’s Global Mission Team growing support for the Pangani ministry for young girls in Kenya.  Christmas 2007 found that same Allegheny Synod Women’s Organization sponsoring the Angel Tree ministry – a ministry of giving gifts to children of prison inmates on the territory of the Allegheny Synod.  Plus the women of this synod have worked collaboratively with women all over the country to develop a water system in Tanzania, a diabetes prevention program in Texas, a midwife training program in Peru, and homeless shelters in Illinois and Wisconsin.  Mission and ministry are embedded in the fabric of this outreach oriented arm of our church

In more recent days Women of the ELCA have developed Café, a web-based

e-zine (www.boldcafe.org) as they describe it.  It is for young women in particular, and all women who are embracing the computer age.

Certainly women today serve within the life of our congregations and in the synod in a variety of ways, not specifically associated with the women’s organization.  Thanks be to God!  Yet the women’s organization is a wonderful gift to all of us.

Ladies, I know the women now participating in your local unit of Women of the ELCA would welcome you to one of their gatherings.  There is a place there for you and your gifts, talents, skills, and ideas.  I know … you really do not need one more commitment, but you may be surprised at the impact this ministry has on your life.