That would make a great series of T-shirts and bumper stickers, I wonder if anyone has considered it? Seriously, I do love the folks of upstate New York, Buffalo and Niagara areas and beyond." My few days with them a couple weeks ago were a joy and a learning experience for me. Their local “take charge” leadership is encouraging to watch in action and can serve as a role model to the WordAlone Network as a whole.
New York WordAlone supporters shatter the geographic stereotypes of WordAlone’s being only Midwestern in its appeal. They challenge the common belief that WordAlone appeals to former ALC (American Lutheran Church) members not LCA (Lutheran Church in America). These New Yorkers defy any attempts to be marginalized, minimized or even threatened as they participate in the church and share their confessional voice. There are now nine WordAlone Network congregations in the area and others that support us. Many more are showing interest as the message of renewal, reform and deeper theological reflection is spread.
New York WordAlone has committed itself to “one person at a time” telling the story, sharing the hope and inviting the hearer to get involved. The regional differences across the Lutheran church of the U.S. that have existed since the first immigrants settled are vast. The Eastern states do differ from other areas in the practice of their faith in many significant ways, and yet, when dealt with openly and honestly, those differences are cause to celebrate, learn and grow together in Christ. Our differences do not stand as a barrier to the message of the WordAlone Network but reflect the movement and the freedom it offers.
We are “free to be” according to our rich traditions and heritage and still can unite around our common confession that Christ alone is our salvation. To this nothing else of human construct, though deemed “necessary,” can be added.
If the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America were to be more “tribal” in its identity, as WordAlone convention speaker Leonard Sweet reminded us, it would be able to celebrate its diversity from within and carry that rich heritage to the ecumenical table. It would claim tribal character, richness of tradition and a conviction to uphold who we are as Lutherans, and it would not sell out
Thank you New York for your continued work and conviction to the freedom of the Gospel. One person at a time you are making a difference!