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Emphasis on grace

Christina Jackson-Skelton, Executive Director, Mission Advancement brings us greetings from the ELCA Churchwide offices in Chicago. She greets us with words of gratitude of the service of our synod, the vitality of the Church, and challenges us to continue our commitment toward service and justice in our communities, our synods, and the wider world.

[NOTE: Find the video she shared in a separate post.]

She extended her greatest appreciation for each of our ministries in our daily lives and in the ministries of our communities and shared updates from each of the many ELCA programs and ministries. Ms. Jackson-Skelton also brought us the ELCA’s Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s video message [NOTE: video link also in post], a message centered around an emphasis that separates Lutherans from other Christians and people of faith: GRACE. And while many Christians operate with an understanding of grace, our distinctive and unique message is that “grace is the gift of God.” She added that Luther wrote, “Grace does so much that we are accounted completely righteous before God — For grace is not divided or parceled out but takes us completely into favor for the sake of Christ, our intercessor and mediator.” Bishop Eaton concludes that Luther is making the evangelical point about gracethat it is not up to us, rather it is God’s good pleasure. “Grace is not something that God does, rather grace is who God is.” Her hope for us in the ELCA is that we speak of grace as evangelical grace, knowing that God created all things good and sent us Jesus, the embodiment of love, to save us from ourselves and the sin in the world.

We turn now to possibly the most thrilling part of the day – the voting device tutorial and the first ballot!

An enormously hopeful time

Bishop Graham gives his 11th Annual report, reflecting on an “exciting” previous year: “Exciting in both an enjoyable and terrifying way.” Bishop Graham reflects that the year ahead promises to be “interesting” and reminds us that in all times and in all places we are in God’s hands and kept in God’s grace.  

The bishop’s highlight of 2017 was the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation which gave us all the opportunity to remember where we came from, so that we may go forward boldly. Bishop Graham recalled the incredible worship service on Reformation Sunday in the National Cathedral — a beautiful, packed, and Spirit-filled worship service — a service that moved him to tears.

Among all the preparation for and excitement around the 500th anniversary, Bishop Graham reminded us that life went on as usual in the Synod Office. Together, the fantastic synod staff worked hard helping congregations make plans, find leaders, look forward, and face challenges. He reminded us that this is an enormously hopeful time — especially for in metropolitan areas as we are renewed and inspired by immigrants and refugees that embrace, and are embraced by, our communities.

The hope for this next year and moving forward is that the synod’s New Connections campaign will flourish and bear much fruit. To do this, we are reminded that it will take the whole synod’s excitement and participation. Much more on the New Connections campaign will be shared throughout our time together today.

A transition task force has been called together to bridge us from our current bishop to our new one, to be elected in 2019. We are encouraged to begin praying for our synod — prayers for the possibilities, prayers that we will be wise and open-hearted, prayers that potential leaders discern a call to be Bishop and accept the call with joy.

For this “11th and almost last time”, Bishop Graham submitted his report with gratitude — to his coworkers, to his family, to his wife, and to all of us — and with blessings.

Videos shown during 2018 Synod Assembly

“ELCA 2017 in Review” – Shown by Christina Jackson-Skelton, representing the ELCA churchwide expression


“We Are Lutheran: ELCA Synod Assembly 2018” – Reflections by the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop, shown during report of Christina Jackson-Skelton, representative of the churchwide expression of the ELCA


Upcoming from New Connections: “Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church”


A word of welcome – in languages of worship in Metro D.C. Synod congregations


Milestones in Ministry


Looking ahead to 2019


Coaching Ministry in the Metro D.C. Synod

Culto de la mañana

Estamos iniciando nuestra celebración de adoración desde la fuente bautismal para recordar nuestro bautismo y pidiendo a Dios perdón por nuestros pecados.

Nuestra Asamblea 2018 del Sínodo de DC estamos cantando algunos cantos en español. Todos nos sentimos una sola familia bajo la gracia de Dios, más allá de nuestras raza y lengua.


Nuestro Obispo Graham está iniciando el sermón , recordandonos que todos los que aquí estamos somos bienvenidos en la gracia de Dios.

Nos recuerda acerca de la primera lectura que habla acerca del bautismo del eunuco por medio de Felipe, que todos estamos bienvenidos.

Del Evangelio nos recuerda que Jesús es quien nos da la bienvenida a todos de manera abierta y sin nigún juicio, más allá de nuestro vínculos familiares.

Este mensaje puede ser bastante esperanzador en medio de nuestros días cuando vivimos en una cultura tan distinta.

Nuestra iglesia es una iglesia de bienvenida, recibiendo y dando la bienvenida a todos los que son diferentes a nosostros, si nigún tipo de diferencia.

Odiamos tanta violencia en nuestras escuelas, odiamos tanta pobreza en nuestro mundo.

Dios nos invita a hacer aquello que es pequeño para ser personas que den la bienvenida a los demás.

Bienvenidos en el nombre de Jesucristo que nos reune y congrega en el nombre de DIos, del JEsús y del Espíritu Santo.


Nuestro canción de ofertorio es con el ritmo peruano. Preciosa canción

Nos preparamos en este momento a participar de la mesa de Cristo recibiendo su cuerop y su sangre que nos une como familia y que nos hace uno con su cuerpo.

Lutero decía que cuando recibimos el sacramento del cuerpo y la sangre de Cristo, nosotros le dabamos a él nuestros pecados y el nos daba su perdón y gracia.

Estamos terminando nuestro culto. y estamos dando inicio a nuestra Asamblea 2018 de manera oficial en el nombre del Padre y del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo.

Countercultural welcome

Metro D.C. Synod Assembly 2018 Theme “Connecting – Up In Out” is in full swing as people introduce themselves to one another, friends are hugging, and colleagues are greeting as we gather at Lord of Life Lutheran Church – Fairfax Campus. Shortly we will begin worship accompanied with music in both Spanish and English. Our offering today is designated to the synod’s New Connection Campaign and Building Puentes Initiative

Bishop Richard H. Graham brings us a sermon of ‘WELCOME’ to our assembly today. Accompanied by scriptures that point to inclusivity and welcome, it is Jesus that offers the most radical of ‘welcomes’ — “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” The Bishop reminds us that it is hard to think of a more countercultural message than ‘welcome‘ in our world day.

We as the church are not used to ‘otherness’ — our larger world supports this. Yet we are called to be a gathering of diverse people, he comments. Our churches are places where we greet and learn not because it’s natural but because it’s what Jesus calls us to and what Jesus blesses. We welcome and invite others to join us – knowing they will change us.

To conclude, Bishop Graham recalled his time last week marching in the local Pride Parade and how proud he was to be apart of it — albeit quirky! “We do it as a Lutheran community to show the thousands that we welcome ALL and ANYONE to our faith communities. The Bishop’s invitation and encouraging challenge of WELCOME will guide our time together today, sent by a gracious Spirit to CONNECT UP, IN, and OUT! Amen!

Synod Assembly 2019

“Forward Together with Courage and Hope” is the theme for our synod’s annual gathering in 2019.

Metro D.C. Synod Assembly
Friday & Saturday, June 14-15, 2019
at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in College Park, Md.

As congregations are building their 2019 budgets we have been getting quite a few questions about Synod Assembly costs. The Synod Council approved the following costs for the 2019 Synod Assembly – registration is $400 for rostered ministers and voting members, additionally the hotel cost is $168 for the night (single or double occupancy). We hope to have registration open by February 1st. More details will be coming soon at http://metrodcelca.org/synod-assembly-2019.

We know the truth


Father’s Day is in June. Let me tell you a little bit about my dad. His name was William Frederick Eaton. He was born in 1924 to an Irish Catholic father and a German Lutheran mother. (There were always going to be potatoes and cabbage in my future.) My father was a child of the Depression. Like thousands of his generation, he enlisted in the army during World War II. An Army Air Corps officer at age 20, he flew B-24s and served in North Africa and Italy.

My father, who had an amazing sense of humor, told my brothers and me stories about his time in the army—about the training, the friends he made and the not-quite-regulation antics they pulled. These were 20-year-olds, after all. Only once did he speak about an actual combat operation, and then only briefly. War is about killing, and those we send to serve carry that with them for the rest of their lives.

After the war and newly married, my father and mother built a life together. They bought their first house. My father went to night school and earned his bachelor’s degree. One of my fondest childhood memories was when my mother allowed me to stay up late so I could see my dad when he came home from night school. He was the first in his family to graduate from college.

My father was a man of integrity and courage. He grew up in a working-class family, and he worked hard for everything he earned. He served his country; loved my mother, brothers and me; raised a family; served his church; and was involved in the community.

June is also the month of Juneteenth, the celebration of the emancipation and the end of slavery in the United States. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that the news reached Texas, the last state that had slaves. Finally, at least officially, freedom was granted to all. We know that African descent people took their place in local, state and national leadership and elected positions, including Congress. This was a time of great hope and possibility for our country as former slaves became citizens and worked alongside European descent citizens to rebuild the nation. But it was short-lived.

Almost immediately laws were put in place that restricted African Americans’ access to economic advancement, voting, education and property ownership. We know the dreadful history of the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and the horror of lynching.

My father’s family had only arrived in 1863. My mother’s family would not come to America for another half century.

Here is where my father’s story and that of the not-yet-realized emancipation of African American people intersect. After World War II our government enacted the GI Bill that made benefits like college tuition and low-interest home loans available for veterans. There was a catch. You had to be white. My father’s bomb group had a fighter escort squadron. It was the job of these men to protect pilots like my dad. They were the Tuskegee Airmen, the Red Tails. They were also brave men who served our country and, after the war, came home to start families and build a life. They served in the same war, wore the same uniform and flew the same missions, but they were barred from the benefits of the GI Bill because they were African American.

This is white privilege. It doesn’t diminish my father’s courage and service. It doesn’t mean that white people don’t sacrifice and work hard. It does mean that the system favors white people. We didn’t create this—we inherited it.

Now that we know about it, we have to do something about it. Americans love fair play. We’ve been taught that everyone should have an even chance. Now we know the truth. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). It might hurt, but it brings liberation. We are not free until all of us are free.

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Update June 7, 2018: In this column I wrote: “After World War II our government enacted the GI Bill that made benefits like college tuition and low-interest home loans available for veterans. There was a catch. You had to be white.” Let me be clear, the GI Bill did not preclude veterans of color from these benefits. The GI Bill didn’t discriminate, but banks and colleges did. Many, many banks refused to issue loans to people in predominantly African American neighborhoods and many, many of the new suburbs being built refused to sell to African Americans. Also many colleges and universities did not admit African American students.

I was wrong about the GI Bill, but not about the institutional racism that prevented veterans of color from receiving the benefits the GI Bill made possible.

This column originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Living Lutheran magazine.

Comparte nuestro tiempo juntos

Vicar Franklin Morales, our guest blogger, has been serving at St. Stephen Lutheran in Silver Spring, Md.

Agradecemos a Vicar Franklin Morales por escribir sobre su experiencia en español cuando los miembros de nuestro sínodo se reúnen el 16 de junio.

Once we get rolling

Vicar Ben Hogue has been serving at Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill.

Follow our blog during the 2018 Synod Assembly for observations and decisions as they unfold during our time together. Special thanks to our guest blogger, Vicar Ben Hogue, who will share with us his experience “From the Floor” of the Synod Assembly!