Sunday, October 14, 2012

Edie and Her Many Friends in Service

This past week has been so lovely for Gregory and me as we were able to be with our friend from Massachusetts, Edie Lohr.  Edie was here in Decorah with other retired executives from Lutheran Social Service agencies from across the US.  These retired executives spent their careers leading really big LSS ministries in Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, New England, Kansas, South Dakota, and more.  It was terrific to be with them and to reflect through worship and conversation about what it means to be called and to be in service to others.

When Gregory and I first moved to Boston, I worked for Edie as her VP for Advancement at LSS of New England.  This time with LSSNE was my one and only professional foray outside of higher education fund-raising, and while I missed the academic rhythm I knew so well, I learned so much by diving deep into social outreach and embarking on a new and broader understanding of what it means to be the Church.  Edie was and is a master tutor on what it means to serve, to share the Gospel message of service, and what more there is to do.  Those were good years serving LSS and I learned a lot.  Perhaps more than I knew at the time . . . but isn’t this always the case in life? 

And this past week, Edie did me a huge favor.  She invited me to speak about Empowering Learners to this assembled group of retired executives.  Edie and her husband, Retired Bishop Harold Lohr, are loyal donors to our project and they follow our progress closely.  Edie and Harold have also met Ethan, so they’re familiar with the whole Empowering Learners leadership team!

So when Edie asked if I would like to share the story of Empowering Learners to these servants of the church, of course I jumped at the chance.  Talk about preaching to the choir!  What an engaged group of friendies!  They all knew about Namibia Concerns, some knew about the impact of the Finnish Missionaries, and still others were familiar with the 100 Namibian scholars who came to our ELCA colleges in the 1980’s during the Namibian fight for independence.

These executives also had wonderful questions.  And of course these questions made me think anew and ponder.  They challenged me to think further about what comes next in the years ahead.  They embraced our project’s sense of accompaniment as we walk with our brothers and sisters in the ELCIN.  They shared with me some additional reading material, and prompted me to learn more about the involvement of fellow Lutherans in the UN peace keeping efforts in Namibia in the 1980’s. 

Dear Edie and LSS friends.  Thank you for your lives of service to the church and the world.  Thank you for your support of Empowering Learners, as well as your challenge to this learner to embark on an even deeper dive into Namibian history.  Most of all thank you for your encouragement and good wishes for the future of our work.  It was a pleasure to be with you.    

Go in peace friends, serve the Lord!  

Empowering Learners.  

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