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Bethany members prepare to leave for Namibia

Good morning, everyone

Did you know that Bethany has four members who soon will be in Namibia to work with other Lutherans and to attend the Lutheran World Federation assembly? This coming Saturday and Sunday during worship, myself, my husband Lloyd, and Dave and Trish Siburg will be blessed as we make final preparations for our visit. Thanks to Pastor Paul for doing that.

As chair of the Namibia Task Force of the Southwestern Washington Synod, I will lead a small team that will advance and sustain a longstanding ELCA companion relationship with the three Lutheran church bodies in Namibia. Besides Lloyd, members include Deacon Linda Walker of the New Jersey Synod and Stephanie Haselwood Armstrong of Elim Lutheran Church of Port Orchard. We’ll first attend the assembly, which celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. We then will visit, worship and plan with representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia. After a safari at Etosha National Park, we’ll do the same work within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia. We’ll visit Paulinum seminary. And, we’ll give a formal greeting to the German Lutheran church. We hope to meet with a couple of key government officials. After that, we head to the German colonial town of Swakopmund on the coast.

The Siburgs will attend the assembly, and then take off on their own for a visit with the indigenous San people.

Please pray that all of us are good global representatives and that we are effective in furthering our companion relationship. Please pray for our safety in that vast desert country just north of South Africa.

Rachel Pritchett

P.S. Here's a photo of a malnourished boy I took in Namibia in 2010. I've thought and prayed for him many times since.

Posted by Rachel Pritchett with

Column: Let anyone with Ears Listen

By the Rev. Kirby Unti, NWWA Synod Bishop

What does it mean to hear?

During seminary, my New Testament Professor Harry Mumm tried to impress upon us the importance of being able to hear God's word.  He shared a story about his grandson Ivan, who he and Mrs. Mumm were raising.  When dinner time came around Mrs. Mumm would call out with a loud voice, "Ivan, it is dinner time!"  Ivan would ignore her call.

A second time she would call out. "Ivan, come to the table - dinner is on."  "Yes, grandma, I'm coming." But no Ivan.  By the third or fourth time the appeal was more urgent, "Ivan, if you are going to get any dinner, you need to come to the table now."

Dr. Mumm went on to explain that Ivan had not heard his grandmother, until he appeared at the table.  Luther had a similar understanding of God's word.  For Luther, God's word was a dead word - until it addressed one's life in a way that demanded a response.

One of the precious gifts of serving the Office of Bishop is I frequently find myself in various houses of worship. Week in and week out, I watch people recite the liturgy, sing hymns, enter into prayer, and attend to the sermon. The words are powerful - proclaiming God's love, calling us to seek justice, encouraging us to be peacemakers, inviting us to be about forgiveness, and to become agents of reconciliation - there is even an invitation to come to the table.

The question I am pondering is, "Have we heard the word?"

Are these words just noise in the background that annoy us and otherwise interrupt our own personal desires?  Like Ivan do we say yes and then carry on as if no word has been spoken?  Like Ivan do we plan to eventually respond but not until we have to?  Has the word in our time just become ritual?  Has it become a word for Sunday only?  Or does it still have the power to disturb us and inspire us.

The cornerstone of the Synod's Living Local movement is learning how to listen to God's word that we might hear it.  Dwelling in the word is the discipline that teaches listening.   We commit to reading the same text over a long time span always listening for what we haven't heard before.  We become like little children who want to hear the same story read over and over again.  In our household, it was Good Night, Moon.  Kim and I knew it so well we would try on occasion to leave out a page.  Believe me, we didn't get away with it.


The practice of learning to hear God's word is, in turn, applied to listening for God in the community by engaging our neighbors.  This is so important because we never want to miss out on God's invitation to join in - in what God is already up to.


Grandma Mumm did not call Ivan to the table just to make his life miserable.  Grandma Mumm called Ivan to the table that he might share in all that she had prepared for him.  Not just the meat and potatoes, but the deep love of knowing that he was the apple of their eye. 

Friends, join me in learning to hear the word of God.  A word that continues to invite all of us to the table.


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