Making space for hope, love, support

The following was published in the Valley News on August 16, 2019 and written by Pastor Kyle Seibert. The article can be found here.

* * *

Anger. Fear. Grief. Lament. Sadness. Despair. Anxiety. These are emotions that we have all labeled within ourselves or others from time to time.

These are some of the emotions that I have felt recently with news of more mass shootings. These are some of the emotions that the congregation I pastor, Our Savior Lutheran Church and Campus Ministry, have felt these past days, months, and years. Our “thoughts and prayers” led us to action, and we hosted a “Community Vigil for the Victims of Gun Violence (And the Rest of Us)” last Friday evening.

I spent much of the week speaking with and interviewing with news outlets about the vigil. They were all interested in the voyeuristic aspects of a church engaging violence. They wanted to know if we would have security present and what active shooter training was like. The articles, news clips and photographs that were published all framed our vigil as a political movement against legislative actions by President Donald Trump and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu.

They all ignored the realities of death.

Not one mentioned our Upper Valley community coming together to share in their lament, to support one another in their grief, and face the human realities of violence and death — forming a space rooted in love.

I shouldn’t be surprised. Our culture avoids uncomfortable emotions. But we as a church decided to sit with them and face them head on with a diverse group from the Upper Valley. That is what is newsworthy: Diverse peoples, supporting one another in their humanness, in their tears, and in their mourning.

The Friday vigil was not a cheap, partisan charade to make those in attendance feel good about themselves. The vigil was about creating space to come together to grieve, find power in being together and hope for a future.

Hear me: We need sensible action. Absolutely. But we also need to really and truly face what disturbs our souls. While that might not sell news, it is a sign of hope in these troubled times.

REV KYLE SEIBERT

Hanover

The writer is the pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church and Campus Ministry in Hanover.

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What’s Your Story?

Editor’s Note:  The Rev. Leila Ortiz served as guest preacher and was elected to  serve as Bishop of the Metro DC Synod of the ELCA at the Metro DC Synod Assembly held June 14-15.  We’ll add links to the storytelling presentation by keynote speaker Margot Leitman as well as the sermon by the Rev. Leila Ortiz when they become available.

“WHAT’S YOUR STORY”
New England Synod Assembly Report
June 7-8, 2019

On June 7th, Pastor Kyle, Lars Johanson and I (along with close to 500 other participants) attended the New England Synod Assembly in Worcester, MA and discovered what this unusual and enticing title for a Synod Assembly was all about. As we learned from Margot Leitman, our Keynote Speaker, “Everyone has a story and connecting with strangers creates great stories which unite us and shows how similar we really are. Why we do what we do in the ELCA and in our own individual lives gets the stories out of our heads and into the world for all to hear. It is important for us to tell why we do what we do in our worship and work as members of the ELCA and in the activities of our daily lives. Continue reading What’s Your Story?

What Happened at New England Synod Assembly?

Editor’s Note:  Lars Johanson submitted this report on the June 7-8 New England Synod Assembly.  The Rev. Leila Ortiz served as guest preacher and was elected to  serve as Bishop of the Metro DC Synod of the ELCA at the Metro DC Synod Assembly held June 14-15.  We’ll add links to the storytelling presentation by keynote speaker Margot Leitman as well as the sermon by the Rev. Leila Ortiz when they become available.

Pastor Kyle Seibert, Rosemary Affeldt and I attended the NE Synod Assembly in Worcester, MA.  Over 500 men and women attended the two-day conference from congregations all over New England. One of the lasting impressions of the meeting was the number of women who hold leading positions within the synod and as pastors of various congregations. Many of them gave presentations and led devotions and worship.

A considerable amount of time was devoted to “church business” such as presentation of memorials and reports from Bishop Hazelwood and various components of the synod. I was very impressed with the four memorials that were approved and will be presented later this summer at the ELCA National Assembly. Two of the memorials dealt with Continue reading What Happened at New England Synod Assembly?

“Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow!” Bread for the World Offering of Letters

Our Savior Lutheran Church is a Covenant Church with the Bread for the World (BFW) movement. BFW currently is ecumenical in scope; but was started by a Lutheran Pastor in New York City, in the early 70s. BFW asks us to communicate with our legislators about hunger related issues throughout the year, but each year they focus on one particular issue, for an annual Offering of Letters

Reading the news, it is hard to imagine that progress has been made in reducing global poverty and hunger, but they have literally been cut, nearly in half over the past 30 years. In countries such as Ghana and Honduras, one of the effects of chronic malnutrition, developmental stunting, has been reduced by nearly 1/3rd over the past 10 years!! This has been accomplished by emphasizing good nutrition during the first 1,000 days of a mother’s pregnancy through her child’s second birthday.

But the work is not done, and we don’t want to lose the gains we have made, since worldwide nearly half of all the childhood deaths are linked to malnutrition. Continue reading “Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow!” Bread for the World Offering of Letters