Fall 2021 | Connecting National and Local Secretariats
Official Publication of the National Lutheran Secretariat | Via de Cristo

A Word from the
NLS President

Living in Interesting Times

Most of you have probably heard the old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Put differently, my daughter said the other day, “I’ve learned to hate the word ‘unprecedented.’” 

One thing we can likely agree upon – the past year and a half have been “interesting” and “unprecedented.” Weekends and ultreyas put on hold. Worship opportunities disrupted. Travel nearly stopped for a time. It would be easy to focus on the negatives – the things we’ve lost.

But with challenges come opportunities and I find myself praising God for all the blessings He has given us. Two years ago, how many of us had never sat in on a video call? Now, even those of us who are “technically challenged” probably find ourselves talking to people we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Our churches are reaching out to people who might not have come to a service – but now attend on-line. Communities are holding virtual ultreyas, allowing us to reconnect and remember that the mission continues, even in “interesting” times. Yes, gathering and communicating are more challenging – but God has given us tools to allow us to overcome those challenges. I find myself so grateful to Him for these blessings – blessings we would not have had a decade ago.

And there are other blessings which have come with these “interesting” times. How many of you have had a chance to have real, meaningful conversations with friends, co-workers, and neighbors; conversations that might not have happened in more “normal” times. COVID has disrupted our routines and caused many people to ask important questions, such as “Am I afraid of dying? What will happen to me if I do?” I’ve had more opportunities to share the Gospel in a very natural way in the past 18 months than had usually been the case, sharing how my relationship with the Lord gives me assurance in unsettled times. I don’t know the future – but I put my trust in the One who does. 

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t regard COVID as a good thing. But I have seen how God has used even this situation to bring glory to His name. And I pray that you have found in Via de Cristo the tools to help you find His blessings in this “interesting” time. That your reunion group is a source of strength and support. That your ultreyas have helped you reconnect and find encouragement. That you’ve found opportunities to be a light in your environments, serving God and drawing closer to Him.

We all look forward to the day when we can return to normal – or adapt to a new normal. Meanwhile, we have the assurance that we are covered by God’s grace and He will be with us, even in these “interesting times.”

Showered by God’s Grace

Some stories are so good, they just have to be shared. And what story can be better than seeing God’s grace in action, as He provides for all our needs? But the story gets even better when God allows us to be one of the instruments of His grace. I don’t know about you, but every time God allows me to participate in His work, I am overwhelmed by a sense of wonder, that the Creator of the universe would desire to work through me. Yes, it is only by His grace and using only those gifts that He already provided – but it’s still so exciting to be permitted to participate. 

Just a little while ago, I got to watch this incredible community come together and serve as God’s instrument as He showered us in grace. The Colorado community was about to begin Weekend #45, but the prayer vigil was not yet ready. Reaching out to the greater community via our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/viadecristo), they let the greater community know of the need for prayer warriors. Suddenly, there were emails flying around the country, as various members of the Via de Cristo community shared the link for the prayer vigil sign-up. Within 4 hours, nearly every prayer slot was covered and by the next day, all 72 slots were filled. As I tracked the numbers of open slots, it was like watching the parting of the Red Sea. Where there was no evident path in sight, God created a path, using all of you as His instrument.

What a joyous example of Christian Community in Action! I want to thank every person who helped ensure Colorado Weekend #45 was bathed in prayer. And I want to encourage us all to take advantage of the tools God has given us – our Facebook page as well as our NLS website – to share your weekend dates and prayer vigils. I consider it a privilege to pray for weekends across the country and I believe having nationwide prayer support sends a message to those on a weekend, that our God is everywhere and that we are part of a much larger community of faith and action – of faith in action. What a joy that we get to be part of that community!

God loves you and so do I!
John Aclin

A Word From
The Vice President of Outreach
Greetings from your newly appointed Vice President for Outreach! On behalf of the Regional Coordinators, I would like to take a minute to remind all of you of who we are and what we are about. 

The national website defines the Regional Coordinator role as, “a responsible servant of Jesus Christ who…coordinates regional activities to: assist existing Via de Cristo communities in fulfilling their call; liaise with the leadership of the affiliated secretariats to obtain information regarding their needs, wellbeing, and concerns; support education around the Essentials of Via de Cristo (VdC); and support the development of new VdC communities.” In short, the Regional Coordinator (RC) is a liaison between the local secretariats and the national board, a member of the VdC support system, a trouble shooter, and an advocate for the local communities. We RCs are here to assist and support you, to answer questions, to address concerns and support you with prayer, not just to suggest what to do or gather data. Although from time to time we will be reaching out to gather information, our primary role is to be here to facilitate communication between the local communities and the national secretariat, to advocate for your needs and concerns and to help celebrate and share your successes. 

To that end, your RCs will be reaching out to the Lay Directors in your communities in the next few weeks to hold virtual “check-in” meetings. The purpose of these meetings will be to connect with each other, share excitements, celebrations and challenges and basically support one another in our mission. It is my hope that each secretariat will take advantage of these opportunities to meet with other Lay Directors and your Regional Coordinator for the cross-pollination of ideas. In addition, in the near future, the National Lutheran Secretariat (NLS) will be reaching out to secretariat members in the form of a survey to request information regarding the current state of each secretariat, the challenges and celebrations you are experiencing, and any needs you have that the NLS may be able to support. Please watch for the survey soon. 

Our Region Coordinators are here to aid and support you. If you are not sure who the RC is for your region, you can find them here. Please reach out to them as needed. Also, we are in need of RCs in Region One and Region Two. If you are interested in or know who someone who might be, please reach out to me at outreach@viadecristo.org

Respectfully submitted,
Karen Weires
Vice President for Outreach

I recently attended the National Cursillo Ultreya (Virtual). During one of the talks, the speaker mentioned living a “palanca life.” A palanca life… not just on a weekend, but every day. This stuck with me. It struck a chord. What would a “palanca life” look like? Do I live that way? What if I did? What if we ALL did?  

In Spanish, “palanca” means lever. A lever is something that moves (someone or something) with a concerted physical effort. In the Via de Cristo movement, “palanca” (letters and other items) moves or gives support and guidance in the form of a prayer, sacrifice, and honest communication. So, what if we were each other’s “levers”? What if we lived a life that moved others? And to that end, what if we, in Via de Cristo, moved each other? What if, instead of lamenting what we aren’t doing or can’t do or need to improve, we offered support, caring, concern for each? What if we really focused on spending time sharing ideas, celebrations, and lifting each other up in prayer? 

In the Celebrations! section in each issue of the Conexiones, we want to highlight these types of activities and “done wells.” The things that we are excited about. Celebrations of our secretariats and regions. Things that can uplift and support and encourage other communities around the Via de Cristo family as well as our own. This month we highlight the Fanning the Flame weekend that Western North Carolina held in September. In the next Conexiones we would like to celebrate other happenings around the country (e.g., a virtual ice cream social in Washington, an in-person weekend post covid in Florida, a brand-new secretariat in Wisconsin). 

What is happening in your secretariat worth celebrating? What are the things that we are good at, the things we have done well, the things for which we have been successful?

We want to celebrate these events and happenings. Other communities may see what you have done and want to try it in their own communities. If you have something you wish to share, please reach out to president@viadecristo.org and we will be sure that your article gets submitted!

Respectfully submitted,
Karen Weires
Vice President for Outreach

Weekend Update!
Western NC
Via de Cristo

After the last nearly 1 ½ years, we could all probably use some spiritual renewal. Western NC Via de Cristo held its first renewal weekend appropriately named “Fan the Flame” on August 27-29, 2021 at Ridgecrest Conference Center. This retreat center is located in the NC mountains about 20 miles east of Asheville, NC. The planning group, chaired by Lois & Larry Witham, began meeting in late 2019.

After two postponements due to Covid 19, it came none too soon for the 56 participants including 5 participants from other nearby VdC movements. The weekend started at 3 pm on Friday afternoon and ended after the morning worship service on Sunday. Participants were seated 4 to a round table using 14 tables. A tight Covid protocol was followed with social distancing and masks worn indoors for all participants. Three talks were delivered by pastors followed by table discussions. The talks were entitled Fan the Flame by remembering your weekend, Fan the Flame throughout your family and Fan the Flame in all of your environments.

The schedule was much more relaxed than a typical VdC weekend and only cursillistas were invited to attend. The scripture verse for the weekend was: For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you - 2 Timothy 1:6. 

Activities included a photo scavenger hunt, sharing VdC stories, playing board games and cards and each participant writing the name of a potential pilgrim for our fall weekends on a stone and committing to pray for her/him and invite her/him to attend a weekend. There was also a WNCVdC trivia contest. On Saturday evening, we gathered by a fire pit and watched a moving presentation by two mimes who silently encouraged us to live out our faith in relationship with our Lord and with others. Following that, we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores.

There was much laughter and many spiritually powerful moments throughout the weekend. Our hearts were touched by the Spirit much like what we experience on pilgrim weekends. If your Secretariat would like to have more information about a renewal weekend, we’d love to share what we have learned with you. Send me an email or give me a call.

Bob Lewis
NLS Region Six Coordinator
bob@jhhickory.com – (828) 310-1628

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The Winter Conexiones will be here before we know it! Look for it in December.