“Coming to terms with the times” by ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton first appeared in the April 2015 issue of The Lutheran magazine and then again in the Mon Apr 6 enews for the Southeastern Iowa Synod. Click here to subscribe. Peace, PC
When I’m out and about in the church, I’m often asked what I plan to do to save small congregations, reverse the decline in membership, bring young adults back to church, increase mission support, make the ELCA truly multicultural, boost our relevance in the culture and fix Congress (well, not that last one). I have no plan to do any of that by myself, but I wonder if there is a deeper concern in those questions that requires a deeper answer from all of us.
The world has changed and is changing. Residents of my mother’s retirement community who waited weeks to receive letters from loved ones serving overseas during World War II are now on Facebook and regularly use Skype or FaceTime to visit with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Air travel that was once glamorous and rare for most of us is now, both in frequency and ambiance, a lot like taking the bus. It’s not unusual, even in small-town America, to have Jewish, Muslim and Hindu neighbors or those with no religious affiliation at all. We are in a strange new world and don’t really know how all this will shake out.