Dear pastors and congregational leaders of the Greater Milwaukee Synod:
Last week I completed the tenth Cluster Listening Day, and I’m so grateful for the gracious hospitality and enthusiastic participation that my staff and I experienced as we spent time in each of the clusters. At the end of it all, I was able to complete one on one conversations with 62 rostered ministers, have lunch conversations with more than 100 ministers, and engaged in evening conversation groups with 314 individuals from 70 congregations.
While the primary purpose for this process was to help me begin to get to know the people and congregations of the synod, I also was hoping to get a sense for what the Holy Spirit is up to in our context, and to begin to imagine what kind of a future God is inviting us into. We asked the same five questions at each of the evening conversations (What are you grateful for? What causes fear? What gives you hope? What community voices is God inviting you to listen to? How can we work together?) and we have recorded and collated the responses. The synod staff and I will be meeting in the coming days with Alan Roxburgh and Michael Binder of The Missional Network, as we begin to process what we have learned and what it will mean for our life together in this synod.
One initial thought that is that we’re not done listening. While I’m grateful for the many people who participated, I know that there are many voices that we have not yet heard. I also know that most of these voices belong to the everyday people who make up our congregations and communities, folks that are unlikely to come to a synod event. That’s where you come in. I am hoping that, in the coming months, we will be able to initiate a synod-wide listening campaign, so that we might all discover the future into which God is inviting us.
This process will begin on Saturday, February 25. I hope by now you have seen the announcement of the Cluster Assembly event, held from 8:30 am until noon at Mt. Hope Lutheran Church, 8633 W. Becher St., West Allis. We will spend time in God’s Word, we will share what we have begun to learn about our life together, and we will then divide into clusters to take care of some business in preparation for the Synod Assembly, June 1-3, considering nominations and resolutions (guidelines for both are available on the synod website). We hope that everyone who will be a voting member of the synod assembly will try to be in attendance, as well as others who participated in the Cluster Listening Days and who want to contribute to our life together. If there were participants from your congregation, we have listed them on a separate page in this mailing (apologies for any spelling errors).
Many of you have heard me say that I love this church, and I do. But even more than that, I love the God who gave birth to this church, and I love the people that I don’t know yet, the people that the Holy Spirit is inviting us to love, as together we seek to participate in God’s reconciling and transforming mission in the world. See you on the 25!
In Christ’s love,
Paul D. Erickson, Bishop
To register for cluster assembly please visit: https://milwaukeesynod.