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Ninth Triennial Gathering

The Ninth Triennial of the Women of the ELCA is now history.  Over 20 women from our Northwest Wisconsin Synod attended, and we all had a fabulous time.  We were lucky enough to have Mabel Madinga from Malawi travel with us to the Triennial also.  There were several first-timers who came to Charlotte, and they’re already planning on going to Minneapolis in 2017! 

On Thursday, July 24, we had our opening worship service with Pastor Claire Burkat preaching the sermon, and it was such a good one!  She talked about the humanitarian crisis of the unaccompanied minors coming to our country, their parents sending them here to keep them from being killed in their own land.  Friday morning we heard from the ELCA’s first woman bishop, Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.  She’s a terrific speaker also!  She spoke of the ELCA as being an alternative church, a welcoming church; how first, we’re church and second, we’re Lutheran.  She quoted the former ELCA treasurer:  we’re a both/and church in an either/or world.  She asked how can we be a church where everyone is welcome and we mean everyone is welcome.  When people say:  How can we?  We remember every day that we are baptized children of God.  When people say “Yes, but . . . “  we say, “Thank God; let’s go!”

Dr. Diane Jacobson led our Bible study both Friday and Saturday morning.  She’s an engaging, funny lady.  The Rev. Susan Sparks, the featured speaker, had us in stitches.  I was laughing so hard, I was crying, as were a lot of women.  She puts the fun in faith!  Not only is she a Baptist minister in New York, she also spent time as a lawyer, worked at Mother Teresa’s mission in Calcutta, and is a stand-up comedian.  She’s one of the best speakers we’ve ever had.    Saturday morning we heard from our other featured speaker, Becca Stevens.  She is an Episcopal priest serving as chaplain at St. Augustine’s at Vanderbilt University, Nashville.  She was very inspiring.  She is a founder of Magdalene & Thistle Farms, a community for women recovering from violence, prostitution, addiction and life on the streets.  The residents manufacture, market and sell all natural bath and beauty products all over the world.  (She had a booth with the products and they sold out!)  Becca Stevens said, as she looked out at us, that the kingdom of heaven must look like a bowl of M&Ms – that’s a great picture, isn’t it! 

I can’t forget to mention that Saturday morning, over 400 women (and a few men and girls) got up early and did the 5K Walk, Run & Roll to raise money for the Raising Up Healthy Women and Girls initiative.  We had a great time.  And this year, there were four of us from our Northwest Wisconsin Synod that walked (and jogged).  It was wonderful!  And we could even dance afterwards!

Our Sunday morning worship service was inspiring too.  And the music is always so much fun.  There was a group of musicians that go to the Glocal events, and they were great.  There’s guitar, piano, drums, and a violin player who could really sing too.  I couldn’t sit still!  The Dor (generations in Hebrew) was a place with vendors, a bookstore, the Girls Wall (full of things for our younger Women of the ELCA to do), and where in-kind gifts were collected, quilts, were made, and you could sit and visit.  There were also workshops you could attend – so much to do!  And downtown Charlotte was a pretty place to walk around. 

Over 2300 women, staff and crew attended the Ninth Triennial.  I’ve got a few other facts and figures for you:  $14,785 in gift cards was donated; 15,877 minutes in phone cards; 6635 toiletry items; 3716 pairs of socks and underwear; 118 quilt kits; 116 quilts; and 1508 prayer shawls.  Over 65 people donated blood.

A lot of synodical organizations hand out little gifts to other women, sometimes depicting their area, such as pins, or necklaces, or bookmarks.  This year, our SWO handed out red bracelets indicating our support for the Raising Up Healthy Women and Girls initiative.  Lots of SWOs also wear something to identify that they’re from that area, such as hats or sashes.  This year, our new SWO president Sue came up with a great idea.  She made baby hats and we decorated them with a spool of thread, a comb and a scissors, an item from each one of the kits we make for Lutheran World Relief and wore them like a corsage.  Then we can take them apart and put them in a kit.  These were real conversation starters.  One lady came over to me because she was wondering why I had a scissors in my boob pocket!

I have not given you any details on the convention which the delegates attended and took care of the business end of things.  That took place on Tuesday and Wednesday before the Gathering.  Visit the Women of the ELCA website for more details on that.   One of the very best things about going to a Triennial though, is making new friends and seeing old ones.   Lutheran women are the best!  I’ve said it over and over and I’ll say it again:  you regret most the things you didn’t do, not the things you did.  You will never regret going to a Triennial, and in 2017 it’s in Minneapolis!  No excuses! 

Triennial Gathering Promoter, Roberta Bitler, or 715.349.5908 for more information.

Gathering Pictures



Gathering Pictures