Autumn Renewal: On the weekend of October 12-13 the Women of the ELCA (WELCA) held our biannual Autumn Renewal at Cal Lutheran University. The theme was “Sharing God’s Love through Gratitude” using 2 Corinthians 4:15:
“Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”
This was a one-night event instead of previous autumn renewals of two nights. Participants in the program included Pastors Jennifer Burgos, Marta Salazar and Tracy Williams leading devotions and worship; Keia Morris as Bible Study leader; Dona Kintzi and Sharon Heck leading music; and Corinne DeVries as vocal entertainment on Friday evening. We especially welcomed our Latina sisters and supported them with Spanish speaking leadership. In carrying out the theme of the event we had gratitude moments throughout as speakers lifted up the activities and causes they are grateful for in their lives and gratitude booklets for each participant to use to daily record their blessings. Our personal renewal activities included both meditative (labyrinth, yoga, nature walk) and creative (rock painting, beading, knitting and creating flowers) activities. We also included the movie “A Question of Faith” followed by discussion. Our offering of $1346 was divided between Churchwide WELCA general budget and supporting the Triennial Convention delegates which was scheduled for July of 2020.
Conference of Presidents: As president of the Southwest Synod Women of the ELCA, I attended the Conference of Presidents meeting February 21 – 23, 2020 in Chicago at the Lutheran Center. I was on the planning committee for this meeting which met under the theme “The Power of Community.” Questions from the God’s work. Our hands. deck of cards handed out at the last Synod Assembly were used to facilitate discussion among participants at the Conference to discuss building community. Our mission statement begins with the phrase, “As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves . . . .” so it was appropriate to explore the power of that community. These annual meetings at churchwide are an opportunity to connect with other presidents around the country as we are inspired by our national leaders to share ideas for synod and unit renewal, for service and for ways to build community wherever we are.
Winter Gathering: We met on March 7 at Olivet Lutheran/Hawthorne with the theme “Hope in Difficult Times.” 86 women attended the event which included devotions by Pastor Johnel Barron who is interim pastor at Olivet, a brunch and three speakers:
Shannon Savage-Howie, a Deacon and Spiritual advisor, who told about using “storytelling” to help those in the California Lutheran University and Conejo Valley communities who were impacted by the tragedy of both the Borderline shooting and the fires that devastated so many homes in the Thousand Oaks area to process their grief.
Raquel Bautista, a volunteer Social Worker in the Latino community, who told of her family experiences, her move from Mexico to California which led her to get her HS Diploma and her participation in LA County Department of Mental Health. She teaches Art Classes that help empower Latina women in dealing with their problems. Outside in the courtyard she had a display of art and jewelry that had been made in her classes.
Lynn Bulock, a Deacon and writer, who found she was in a unique place with her writing gift to aid our synod in obtaining grants. She partnered with the mental health ministry program NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and wrote a grant for Family and Friends. In her work with NAMI she has learned how to communicate with people who are confronting mental illness. The research shows that one in five of us are dealing with problems due to mental illness. It is often our faith that offers the hope they are seeking.
Dianne Tillman and Sharon Heck led the music. Our offering of $1530 was divided between Lutheran Social Services/Long Beach, “My Friends House” (a local food pantry) and the Churchwide Women of the ELCA.
Triennial Convention & Gathering: The Triennial Convention and Gathering planned for July 16-19, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona with the theme “Just Love” has been postponed to August of 2021 due to Covid-19. What’s News: We published our newsletter What’s News in April, “Creativity & Inspiration,” with each board member sharing how they were coping with the sheltering in place due to Covid-19. Our July edition of the newsletter, “We Cn Do It,” celebrated the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women with reflections on this theme from some of our synod women pastors. Our synodical newsletter “What’s News” is published quarterly and highlights the events of the synodical women as well as those of clusters and congregational units. There is also a regular column by Sharon Heck on Peace and Justice. Thanks to Maxine Cameron Stenstrom, editor and graphic designer, Karil Drake point person editor and Julie Jensen, Database Manager for facilitating this publication. It is now available to anyone who desires it on line as well as through a subscription price of $8 for a mailed out copy. For email copy send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org and for hard copy send your address and $8 check to Julie Jensen, 921 Gill Ave., Port Hueneme, CA 93041.
Board Members: Thanks to our WELCA board members for being especially flexible and creative in this year of 2020 and who have agreed to add one more year to their term of service due to the postponement of our convention to October of 2021:
Rosemary Lawson, Vice President, Beth Bunnell, secretary, Karil Drake, treasurer, Lillian Simons, Janet Simmons, Mary Stewart, Mary Ridenour-French, Pastor Tracy Williams and Dianne Tillman
Peace and Blessings,
Dixie Hanson, President