"There is but one kind of love; God is love, and all his creatures derive theirs from his..."—John James Audubon
April 27, 2021
From the Bishop's Office
Listening for the Unsaid
“Whenever I talk about what a chaplain does, I always start out by saying that chaplains work with people of any religious background and no religious background, regardless of what they believe or don’t believe,” says the Rev. Michael Bostian. “Believe it or not, we get referrals for patients who say they don’t believe in God at all, but they want to talk to a chaplain.”

Assembly Registration Closing Soon!
The 2021 NC Synod Assembly registration window WILL BE CLOSING SOON! This year, registration will not be available after Saturday, May 1. Be sure to: 
  1. Identify your Lay Voting Members quickly.
  2. Ensure each person registering has their own, unique email address.
  3. Get everyone—lay voting members AND yourself (that's you, rostered ministers!)—registered before midnight on May 1. 
  4. Be careful to enter those email addresses correctly as addresses cannot be changed after they're entered.
Contact Michael DeNise with questions.
Creatureliness—Jesus and Ours
In her April column for Living Lutheran, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton writes about Easter and Earth Day, reminding us that we are redeemed, reconciled, and reunited in the beauty of the Creator’s loving handiwork.

Read her column in English or in Spanish.
New Open Doors Grants
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, you have served with compassion and creativity, even as the way we worship and meet has changed. With vaccinations becoming more available, we hold onto hope that we may be able to gather safely in physical spaces in the upcoming months. Open Doors is a new initiative to support ELCA congregations interested in meeting new people during this time of regathering in physical spaces. If you have a concrete, actionable idea for meeting new people during this critical time, your congregation may apply for an Open Doors Grant; apply by Wed., May 19.

Thriving Beyond Covid
This event on either Sunday, May 16, or Thursday, June 17, will help congregations get in the right frame of mind to successfully navigate Post-COVID challenges and come out more vital than before. During the event, you will learn the basic concepts and tools. Congregational study resources and a leader guide are available to download now. These are Scripture-based study resources designed to help congregations release the burdens of the pandemic, promote deeper faith in the Spirit’s power at work in their midst, and empower their future mission. Watch a two-minute preview video.

Lay Visitation Training
The pandemic has changed so much, but it has not changed our need to care for one another in compassionate, Christ-like ways. This May (and a day in June), we will offer a 5-week training on visitation for lay leaders. Topics will include: What Not to Say and Invitations for Silence; Logistics of Visits; Home Communion; Praying with Others; and Hospital Visitation. Classes will be held on Mondays, May 3, 10, 17, 24 and June 7 via Zoom from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Each 90-minute class will include Scripture, teaching, and small groups. Up to five people per congregation may participate.

"God's Work. Our Hands." Sunday
"God's Work. Our Hands." Sunday is September 12, 2021. This day is an opportunity to celebrate who we are as the ELCA—one church, freed in Christ to serve and love our neighbor. Service activities offer an opportunity for us to explore one of our most basic convictions as Lutherans: that all of life in Jesus Christ—every act of service, in every daily calling, in every corner of life—flows freely from a living, daring confidence in God’s grace.

2021 Creative Writing Contest
This year marks the centennial year of the Tulsa Race Massacre. As a way to remember and commemorate the loss of this community in such a dark period of history, the ELCA’s African Descent Lutheran Association and partners have organized a writing contest to gather thoughts, tributes, and sociological/theological understandings of the detrimental impact of this community’s demise on Black American wealth and economic equality.

Contest participants from across the nation age 14 and older are invited to submit poetry, short stories/narratives, or other creative writings. Submissions will be considered across three different age divisions with cash prizes for first, second, and third place winners. Writing submissions are due Monday, May 10, 2021. 

Rostered minister transitions
All are invited to the Ordination of Tobin Lynn Fleck to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament on Friday, April 30. A small group will gather at 5 p.m. at Lutheridge with Bishop Tim Smith, presiding, and Pastor Rosemary Peek, preaching. Your prayers and online presence are requested. Rostered ministers, wear your red stole. Tobi will serve as associate pastor and mission developer at The Dwelling, Winston-Salem.

All are invited to an outdoor service of the Installation of the Rev. Anna Carter as pastor at Holly Grove, Lexington, on Sunday, June 6, at 3 p.m. The Yadkin Conference Dean, Pastor Cassie McIntosh Overcash, will install, and Pastor Scott Anderson will preach. Social distancing and masks covering both the nose and mouth are required for the entire service. Bring your own lawn chair or watch via Facebook live.
Prayers
Of mourning
Barbara Eloise Yount “Bobbie” Rudisill, grandmother of the Rev. Dave Keck (St. Mark's, Mooresville), died on April 23. Survivors include Bobbie's step-daughter, Diana Keck, wife of Pastor David Keck, Sr. (retired, Mooresville). We mourn with her family. Read the full obituary. Watch the service on YouTube or Facebook.

Of healing
Pastor Marty Stevens (retired, Greensboro) was hospitalized for a few days for a pulmonary embolism but is now recovering at home.

For faithful living in society
Sovereign God, your Son Jesus lived within the structures of society even as he spoke truth to those in power and challenged systems of oppression. Empower us to be courageous disciples and responsible citizens. Grant that our life in the public realm be grounded in love for our neighbors, care for the most vulnerable in our midst, and respect for the common life we share, following the example of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Amen. (prayer from All Creation Sings, in SundaysandSeasons.com)
News from across the Church
Krey to serve ELCA Fund for Leaders
Pastor Marissa Krey, has agreed to serve as Interim Director of the ELCA Fund for Leaders as the Mission Funding team moves forward in identifying a candidate to fill the role permanently. Marissa is a Fund for Leaders alumna herself (partial scholarship in 2005) and has done stellar work as a Mission Funding Director (MFD) since joining the churchwide organization in 2019. She and her family live in NC.

Virtual Commencement and Speaker
Hood Theological Seminary's 2021 Virtual Commencement will take place on Saturday, May 15, at 10:30 a.m. Bishop Lawrence L. Reddick III, Presiding Prelate of the Eighth Episcopal District and the Senior Bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal (C.M.E.) Church, will be the 2021 Commencement Speaker.

Where God Dwells
For most of us, the concept of home is complex. In Finding Home (Cascade Books, 2020), author Julie K. Aageson reflects on the physical, spiritual, and metaphorical meanings of home. She explores the idea from a variety of perspectives, including those of refugees and adoptees but also of finding home in our bodies, finding home on Earth, finding home in God, and God finding home in us. Living Lutheran spoke with Aageson, former coordinator of ELCA resource centers, about the themes of her book.

[Editor's note: Y'all, Julie is a dear friend and long-time colleague, but she is also a fine writer with a gift for naming the sacred. I commend her books to you! —Catherine Fink]

Resources for Your Congregation
A Time to Reflect, Refresh, & Refocus
NC Synod Coach Heidi Kleine is offering a virtual workshop on Friday, April 30, from 12:00-3:00 p.m. called "What Now? A Time to Reflect, Refresh, & Refocus." This will be a virtual space to set aside time to process some of the last year and begin to envision a path forward. It is open to clergy and lay leaders and will be the first in her Fifth Friday
Forum series. If Friday does not work for you, the event will be recorded as a virtual course that you can work through on your own time.

Small Church Sunday School
In Matthew 18:20 Jesus says “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” But what if one of the gathered is a 3-year-old, another is 8, and the third is 15? Surely Jesus wasn’t talking about Sunday school with that wide span of ages? Jesus wasn’t talking about Sunday school, but he does remind us of the bond we have with each other and that he is with us. This is what small church Sunday school is all about! Join PRC—Practical Resources for Churches and Mary-Todd Peters for this workshop on Thurs., May 6, at 1 p.m.

Worship Resources for May 2
As part of its spring seminar series, the Institute of Liturgical Studies has developed a new resources page to assist worship leaders and congregations. Available for download and local use are resources for the Fifth Sunday of Easter (May 2, 2021), including a video recording of 1 John 4:7-21 with accompanying art, as well as a sermon based on John 15:1-8.

Job opening: Youth Director
Christ, Charlotte, is seeking a full-time High School/Middle School Youth Director. The Youth Director will create a welcoming environment, guiding and providing faith direction and encouraging discussion for youth to enable them to grow in faith. Learn more.
Did You Know?
Old St. Paul’s, Newton, invites to you the book release of The Faith of Our Fathers Still Lives!, a book written about the history of Old St. Paul’s. Learn more.
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