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September 2016

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Rev Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada writes a regular column for each issue of Canada Lutheran.

ELCIC congregations are welcome to republish this material in their church publications. Please acknowledge its original publication by including the credit line:

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How I spent my summer vacation
Helping us to live out a deeper discipleship

For many years of my elementary schooling, the first assignment I did at the start of the school year in September was to write about how I spent my summer vacation. Perhaps gathering for a family reunion might be a regular part of how you spend at least a part of your vacation. Imagine spending close to three months at a series of family reunions. As the National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, part of my role is doing exactly this on your behalf!

My church family reunions really started back in April with the first of the synod conventions. Later in May, I spent time with our Diaconal Ministers family when they met in Winnipeg. Then in June, I attended the council meeting of the Lutheran World Fed-
eration where our wider church family gathered from around the world in Wittenberg, Germany.

The family reunion for our full communion partner, the Anglican Church of Canada, took place in July as they met in General Synod in Toronto, Ont. Also in July, I attended our full communion National Worship Conference, in Waterloo, Ont.

Our sister church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America held their family reunion in August as they met in New Orleans, Louisiana. I also joined Anglicans and Lutherans in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island for the Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth Gathering. Finally, I participated in the joint Lutheran World Federation Preassembly of the Latin America and the Caribbean Region and the North American Region, which took place in Paramibo, Suriname.

Amongst all these wider church family reunions, I also had the opportunity to gather with my own family for a reunion in British Columbia!

At each of these gathering I have had the opportunity to bring greetings on behalf of our whole church and to share something about the mission and ministry of our church. Our church strives to live In Mission for Others, using four strategic priorities to accomplish this: spirited discipleship, healthy church, compassionate justice and effective partnerships. Family reunions help us live out these priorities.

Each and every gathering has been with one or more of our strategic partners. Despite limited resources and being a “medium size church,” we know our church is far more effective when we work with partners. Together we accomplish much more. Family gatherings allow us to strengthen relationships and work towards becoming a more healthy church.

These gatherings have addressed a number of justice issues, helping us to grow in understanding and in our ability to respond to God’s world, which is in such need. And finally, these gatherings have included times of spiritual nurture, helping us to live out a deeper discipleship as we respond to Jesus’ call to follow him.

My mother always finished her compositions in school with the phrase “they returned home, tired but happy.” That describes in part how I’m feeling at the end of this summer of reunions. But I also feel uplifted and refreshed, with new energy and ideas for the ministry of our church as we head into fall and more opportunities to gather together, starting with the meeting of our National Church Council family in September.

I wish you could have joined me for this summer of family reunions, but please know, as I am present among the various ministries of our church and wider church, that you, too, are there with me in spirit and prayer.

Rev. Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada writes a regular column for each issue of Canada Lutheran.