The big issues in our faces and the unknown under our noses

Bishop Richard Graham gave a verbal report to the assembly on Friday afternoon to support his written report, which had been distributed earlier.

Bishop Graham made several key points to highlight the work and happenings in the synod over the past year. His report touched on the familiar and prominent issues, from the ELCA’s votes on sexuality issues to the economic downturn and how it has affected the country and the synod. These have been hard and unavoidable issues that have confronted the synod.

“This has been a remarkable year in the life of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and in the life of the synod too,” Bishop Graham remarked.

But he also told a story to conclude his remarks that brought up something hidden, a story about a surprising discovery.

Through a bit of a chance meeting with the ambassador to the United States from Sudan, a very poor and war-torn country in East Africa, Bishop Graham discovered something – someone – familiar in an unlikely place. He learned during his meeting that the ambassador from the Islamic Republic of Sudan is a Lutheran and is a member of a Lutheran congregation in Minnesota.

Bishop Graham used this story as a way to demonstrate that we need to widen our perspective – who we are praying for and how are our funds and other resources being shared around the world.

This related to points he made earlier in his report, including the synod’s theme of the “Year of the Young Adult.” He noted that this emphasis is not something short-term. “I hope this becomes a vital part of something we do together,” he said.

For this emphasis in the synod, he asked several questions:

He told assembly participants to ask themselves:

… if the young adults in our lives would be glad to come with them where they worship on Sunday mornings. What would we be willing to change in our worship life? What would we be willing to risk? What would we be willing to do differently so that young adults can grow in faith? What would we be willing to learn from them and put into practice so we can have a ministry with young adults?

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