By Rebecca McDonald, Office Manager
Getting divorced. The death of a loved one. Being diagnosed with a disease. Times of crisis. Visiting another country. Going to camp. Participating in a community service project. Shifts in environment. Waiting to hear if you got the job. Moving to a new city. Awaiting the birth of your first child. Times of transition.
Realizing the person in front of you doesn’t speak English, and the cashier is angry and impatient with her. Driving through a developing community and wondering why there is not a church presence. Reading your friend’s Facebook post and being horrified at his discriminatory remark. Moments of challenge.
What do these seemingly unrelated circumstances have in common?
Times like these are often when spiritual growth can occur. When life is going along as usual, when everything is status quo and you’re in a day-in, day-out routine, it’s easy to fall into complacency. But when life throws crises or changes our way, or when we consciously take on challenges or enter new environments, we are in a sense “on the edges” of life. It is in this liminal space that we can find ourselves in a place to experience greater spiritual growth.
Rev. Dr. John Nunes calls this “Reimagining Spirituality From the Edges.” Dr. Nunes is president-elect of Concordia College in New York, and is currently the Jochum Chair at Valparaiso University. Formerly, John was the President and CEO of Lutheran World Relief, an organization with offices in 17 countries working to alleviate poverty and human suffering. For John’s first twenty years of professional life, he worked in urban ministry settings in Dallas, TX, Detroit, MI, and Buffalo, NY. John is married to Monique Nunes, currently Assistant Director of Multicultural Programs at Valpo and recently named as the Director of International Programs at Martin Luther School in Queens, NY.
This year, our Synod Assembly will focus on the theme of spiritual growth. We are incredibly excited to welcome Dr. Nunes as our keynote speaker, and Monique as she helps lead the assembly in song. The theme verse of the assembly is 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. We are a new creation in Christ, and as ambassadors for Christ we are entrusted with the message of reconciliation.
In describing his focus for the assembly, Dr. Nunes writes, “Since Jesus Christ is the one in whom ‘all things hold together’ (Col:17), Lutheran Christians can with confidence be in ministry with our neighbors, with newcomers and among those not like us. We will look at the way we see our shifting population and also the ways we engage others in witness, service and life together.”
Are you ready to reimagine spirituality from the edges? Are you open to spiritual growth? Is your congregation? You are invited to come to Synod Assembly, whether as a voting member or visitor. As Dr. Nunes says, “The Spirit is stirring up new things in this synod.” Come and be a part of it. Come and reimagine.