The rostered leaders gathered again this fall for a time of renewal, fellowship and intellectual stretching.
This year the usual “Bishop’s time” on Sunday evening expanded to include a “Roast” of retiring Assistant to the Bishop, Darrel Gerrietts. Pastor Gerrietts has served as Assistant to the Bishop since 1996, which makes for a lot of memories and stories.
Pastor Steve Brackett of St. Paul Lutheran, Postville showed us that should he decide to retire from parish ministry, there could be a promising career for him in stand-up comedy. Although he had help, as Pastor Gerrietts’ colorful personality provides good material.
Pastor Brackett was followed by Darrel’s son, Dan, Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran in Mason City, and daughter Anne, church building consultant, ELCA Mission Investment Fund, who gave us the inside scoop as to what it was like to grow up with Pastor Gerrietts as a father.
Pastor Mark Anderson, Assistant to the Bishop, kept the laughter going by sharing what it is like to work with Pastor Gerrietts, ending on a more serious note by reminding us all of what a great advocate rostered leaders have had in Pastor Gerrietts in the Synod Office.
Finally, Bishop Ullestad ended on a serious note in sharing how, along with all the colorful stories, Pastor Gerrietts has a deep spirituality that grounds his love for the church.
The evening, which began in laughter, ended in tears of love and appreciation, not just for this one remarkable saint, but for all who love and work for our crazy, sometimes maddening, but always blessed and sustained by Christ, Church.
We were blessed by worship leadership from Richard Bruxvoort Colligan who shared with us the extensive work he has done with musically interpreting the Psalms for today.
The presentations under the theme of “Changing World, Transforming World”, were led by Mary Streufert, Director for Justice for Women, in the office of the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA.
The first day included all the big concepts–Theological Anthropology, Christology, and Ecclesiology, which stretched our minds and challenged us intellectually. She helped us see how the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification can inform and transform these concepts in ways that are relevant to the evangelical mission today of helping folks see Jesus. The second day we explored these same concepts with art and music.
It is so easy to get insulated and wrapped up with the everyday local concerns of our own work. It is tempting to dismiss the more academic work of theologians as irrelevant to our lives and the lives of our parishioners. But in fact, it is when we stop challenging ourselves with the big ideas and helping people see how the big ideas do inform and transform how we live and work in the world, that we run the risk of becoming irrelevant. This is why these kinds of events are vital not only to the well-being of our rostered leaders but the well-being of the entire church.
Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson
Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA