The Rev. Brenda K. Smith has been named program director for Faith Practices and Book of Faith at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). She will succeed Diane Jacobson, who retired in January as program director for Book of Faith. Prior to her appointment, Smith served as program director for Faith Practices.
“I want to thank Diane Jacobson for her great leadership of the Book of Faith initiative, her willingness to open Scripture with us across the country and urging us to join the holy conversation,” said the Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, executive director, ELCA congregational and synodical mission. “Although Diane has retired, she will continue to support this initiative as she is able.”
The ELCA’s Book of Faith Initiative was approved as a five-year commitment by the 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly encouraging members, congregations and synods to increase and enrich their engagement with Scripture. The 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted to affirm the Book of Faith Initiative “as a continuing emphasis and priority of this church.”
The ELCA’s Faith Practices initiative, “Living the Faith – Call to Discipleship,” was introduced in 2000 to provide members ways in which to live out their faith while growing in discipleship.
“Bringing together the Book of Faith initiative support networks with the Faith Practices focus and networks under the leadership of Brenda Smith will further strengthen and enhance this important and vital ministry,” said Bouman.
“Immersion in Scripture is elemental in the individual and communal discipleship journey of all the baptized, a premiere ‘faith practice.’ Brenda has provided faithful leadership and support in both these networks. Our aim is to embed the Book of Faith and the other faith practices of the disciple throughout the life of the church. This is an investment into the DNA of our life together in Christ,” he said.
“One of the Book of Faith resources suggests that as people of God, part of our calling is to know, hear, share and be rooted in Scripture,” said Smith. “The Book of Faith program offers individuals and congregations strategies that will allow them to do some intentional opening up of Scripture and having a conversation about how this sacred text invites us into a relationship with God, makes demands on our lives, and promises us a life in Christ. As we become increasingly grounded in Scripture, we consistently examine our lives and ask the question, ‘How am I living out my faith in my daily life?’”
Smith said the ELCA has developed a number of faith practices resources, which provide a framework for “how we will reflect our faith in our words and in our deeds.” These resources include “Living Our Baptismal Covenant” and “Daily Faith Practices,” a weekly Bible study based on the second lesson of the lectionary.
“There are many connections between grounding ourselves in the Bible and living out our faith on a daily basis,” said Smith. “Both the Faith Practices team and the Book of Faith team look forward to deepening those connections for the three expressions of the ELCA – the churchwide office, the 65 synods and the congregations.”