In addition to praying intercessory prayers, where we talk with God, spiritual practices that help us to listen to God fill us, guide us, challenge us, comfort us. There are many ancient and modern spiritual practices designed for this. A few of them include Dwelling in the Word, Faith 5, Dwelling in Mandalas and Icons, and the Prayer of Examen. These practices can be used individually or communally. As we are connected with God's grace, God also transforms us in the process as God's disciples, so that we can learn, love, and lead for the sake of the world God loves.
“Beloved Community” is not a utopian idea but an expression of agape. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King had a vision for a community bound by love in action. He described agape as love seeking to preserve and create community insistent on surviving even when forces such as racism, poverty and injustice would seek to break it.
As we become more aware of the impact racism has had on our society and our church, it is important to acknowledge that we may have differing views and experiences depending on our locations and identity. These differences can be navigated with mutual respect and the grace we are afforded as beloved children of God.
Rev. Dr. King did not anticipate that people would be of one mind. Instead, he acknowledged inevitable conflict and called on the church to be a model of the Kingdom of God and to walk in the way of Jesus Christ “forgiving not seven times but seventy times seven times to restore community.”
Where do we go from here as individuals and as church?
The Beloved Community Initiative is an invitation to individuals, community groups and congregations to discern how we can better engage together on the difficult issues that can divide us. The hard work of building new relationships and understanding is done through intentional conversations facilitated by trained volunteers and community-wide explorations of stories and resources that build empathy and understanding.
We hope to create gracious space rooted the faith that God desires for us the blessing of living in peace and unity.
The Southwestern Texas Synod shares the longest border with Mexico of any synod in the ELCA. This unique geography joins us with individuals and families fleeing horrible circumstances in their home countries to seek asylum and a new life in the United States.
Our communities and ecumenical partners collaborate with non-profit organizations to provide a continuum of care for people in transit to family and community sponsors. Aid flows in a variety of forms such as meals and shelter or clothing, blankets and toiletries.
The Southwestern Texas Synod and the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas convene a sponsorship forum to help congregations and community groups across the country explore entering in to a sponsoring relationship. Congregations and community groups are ideal sources of sponsorship and accompaniment because dedicated teams of volunteers can organize to assist with different aspects of daily life and preparing for asylum hearings.
Border response is more than engaging in radical welcome of displaced people. Our commitment to serve our neighbor also compels us to engage in the life of the many residents living in border communities. Some residents are recent immigrants and others descend from the earliest settlers and native people. There are seasonal visitors from colder climates that are known as “Winter Texans.” The borderlands of Texas are an opportunity to experience a rich history and seek relationships with diverse communities formed by shared experience, unconditional love, and unity in the Body of Christ.
Disaster Preparedness and Response Team Our hope is that no one should ever suffer from a disaster, but reality tells us otherwise. Because disaster could happen to anyone, we aim to provide people with helpful resources to prepare for and respond to a variety of disasters -- whether natural or human-made. The synod’s Disaster Preparedness and Response Team convenes regularly throughout the year and particularly before and after a disaster, and we work with our partners in the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod and in Lutheran Disaster Response to serve our communities.
In partnership with ELCA Coaching, the Southwestern Texas Synod is building a team of coaches. The mission of ELCA coaching is to “empower the leaders who power ministry.” We are focused on accompanying people to determine their own course of action by deep listening and focused questions. The guiding principles of ELCA Coaching are: God’s mission and the work of the Holy Spirit are the heart of coaching - Coaching is a ministry of accompaniment and encouragement. God provides everything needed to accomplish God’s purposes for every leader and congregation. Effective leadership is adaptive leadership. Coaching facilitates adaptive leadership.
Generosity is our faithful response as inheritors of the abundance of God’s creation. Central to the Christian life is the duty to fight the scarcity mindset that leads us to stress, doubt and ultimately greed. Living into the truth that God always provides means feeling grateful that we have enough and can leaving the rest for others.