Dear Friends in Jesus,
It’s been nearly a month since we gathered for our convention in Portland. We set our sights on some important issues, and I wanted to follow up with thoughts and encouragements as we all seek to implement our intentions.
Our theme for the convention was Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. In the midst of a time of cultural upheaval in the season of the pandemic, it was important for us to remind ourselves of the solid foundation we have in God’s love for us in Christ. The good news of how He brings that love to each of us was a great comfort and strength. We were reminded of God’s deep commitment to this broken world and the people in it. We heard once again His call to us to bring the redemption He won on the cross to the people around us, and the resolutions we adopted speak to this calling. We remembered and gave thanks for the gift Concordia – Portland has been to this District and to the church, and we mourned its closure. With all the challenges we faced in arranging for and carrying out this convention I am filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude to God for helping us navigate unknown waters and opening some important doors at just the right time to have a solid convention experience.
Let me remind you of the actions taken by the assembly:
|Resolution||Responsible Group||Action to Take|
|1-02B – To Align||NOW District||Update the Bylaws|
|Northwest District By-Laws with Synod Updates||Secretary||Update the Bylaws|
|1-03A – To Delay the Process of Restructuring the Concordia University System||NOW District Secretary||Memorialize 2023 Synod Convention to delay action and study the closures of Selma, Portland, and New York|
|1-04A – To Strengthen Regionalization and Develop a Process of Determining Date and Location for the Northwest District Convention||NOW District President
NOW District Board of Directors
|Create a process for gathering input and selecting dates and location for NOW District Convention|
|1-05A – To Identify and Support Regionally Unique Ministry Opportunities||NOW District Board of Directors||Create a process that identifies the challenges present across the District and report its findings to the members of the District|
|1-06a – To Continue to Make Audited Annual Financial Reports Available to the Members of the Northwest District||NOW District Office
NOW District Members
|Continue to make financial reports available to members of the District
Members are to familiarize themselves with how we can work together better and support the team ministry
|2-02 – To Honor and Give Thanks for the Ministry of Concordia University Portland||NOW District Board of Directors
NOW District Staff
|Keeping the legacy of CUP alive
Identifying new workers to serve
|2-03A – To Consider the Use of Deacons in Word and Sacrament Ministry||NOW District Secretary||Memorialize 2023 Synod Convention to form a Task Force to study the establishment of a Diaconate for Word and Sacrament ministry|
|2-04a – To Increase Distance Education Opportunities to Train General Ordained Ministers||NOW District Congregations
NOW District Secretary
|Encourage seminaries and other Districts to implement distance education
Encourage partnership of CMC and Districts
Memorialize 2023 Synod Convention to recognize CMC as a means to train general pastors
|2-09a – To Encourage District Staff and Boards to Include Ethnic Representation||NOW District Board
NOW District Nominating Committee
|Identify ways to increase ethnic representation|
|2-10a – To Encourage Congregations to Sponsor People of Color to Pursue Professional Church Work||Congregations, Circuits, Individuals NOW District Office||in their preparation
Establish The Sower’s Fund and draft policies in using it
Encourage individuals in prayer and tangible support
|2-11a – To Support Lutheran Latino Ministries||NOW District Congregations
NOW District Office
|Support LLM with gifts
Study the needs of the community
Support Latino youth
Employ existing grants
Please note the particular responsibilities given to congregations in fulfilling these resolutions.
In addition, we collected the names of new leaders in our congregations to fulfill the Northwest District’s Leadership Initiative. We received names from 15 congregations, nominating a total of 32 people for a variety of ministry opportunities. Of these 32, five are considering service as professional church workers. I want to encourage each ministry of the District to revisit the resources available on the NOW District website for identifying and encouraging new leaders in our ministries. The resources can be found at NOW Leadership Initiative (NOW L.I.). This is an important effort, and it depends upon ministries on the ground making a concerted effort to identify and support new leaders in our ministries. The District staff is addressing the conversation about how we can help these new leaders receive training and support as they begin something new.
We also addressed the issue of racism with the help of the Racism Task Force established by the 2018 NOW District Convention. The Task Force produced a toolkit with the help of the District staff that will remain available. This toolkit contains multiple links to a variety of resources that can inform and challenge us as we seek to bring healing to this difficult issue in our communities. The final two studies included as part of the toolkit will be released very soon – so even if you completed the initial part of this toolkit, there is still work to be done. There are also additional resources included in the toolkit that you may want to review. You are encouraged to look at the Resolutions in the workbook not acted on by convention: Res 2-06 – To Encourage After School Programs, Res 2-07 – To Celebrate Ethnic Diversity and Ministry in the Holy Christian Church, and Res 2-08 – To Encourage Dialogue with Fellow Christians of Color. The District staff is continuing to develop strategies that can help keep the conversation alive in our District.
God also blessed us through our keynote speaker, David Kinnaman. David helped us face the new culture we are encountering that is highlighted by changes in our use of technology combined with the effects of the pandemic. People are pursuing avenues of spiritual growth other than the traditional ministry of our congregations. Congregations are being challenged to adapt to this changing landscape. He also spoke about the importance of helping our leaders grow in their resilience. This can be a tall order in the face of so many changes, yet it is something we must come together on. Simply trying to carry on with “business as usual” will lead to poor results and burned-out workers. We are called to the apostle Paul’s attitude in the book of Acts when he visits the philosophers in the Areopagus in chapter 17. Paul also points us to a way of interacting with those outside the church in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
A number of people have asked for David’s PowerPoints and/or video recordings of his presentations. Unfortunately, these are not available to us to distribute. Instead, please find a list of resources to which David referred in his presentations. They are available from the Barna Institute or Lutheran Hour Ministries.
Resilience in our ministries and resilience for our workers will be an important conversation in the months ahead. The staff will be looking to make this a target for our service to the congregations and workers of the District. Look for new opportunities for support down the road.
God has set us apart for service at a unique time in human history. In a way, all times are unique; this is just the one He has set apart for us. I invite you to a renewed commitment and vision for the sharing of God’s love in Jesus for such a time as this. God bless us as we move ahead together.
Serving the Lord and His Church,
Rev. Dr. Paul Linnemann
Northwest District President
Resources available from Lutheran Hour Ministries (lhm.org/barna):
Gifted for More
Households of Faith
Spiritual Conversations in the Digital Age
Resources available from the Barna Institute (barna.org):
The Resilient Pastor
Faith for Exiles
The State of Your Church
…and many others