As ELCA regional representatives in South America, Kate Lawler and David Wunsch are a bridge between the ELCA and companion churches in Argentina-Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru and Chile.
One of our great pleasures is introducing our “old” friends to new ones. We get to do that a lot in our work with the Lutheran church leaders in this part of South America. We would like all of you to also meet some of these terrific people pictured here. As you remember Kate and me in your prayers, please lift them up as well. Without them, our ministry would not be possible.
These photos were taken at an annual gathering of Lutheran leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean held this year in Argentina under the auspices of the Lutheran World Federation communion of churches. With one exception – Brazil – these churches are very small and gain strength from coming together to discuss topics like sustainable strategies for mission, leadership development, gender justice and advocacy with others who share the same confessional identity.
A quote from Thomas Merton’s “Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander” helps explain what it means to be in communion as we gather around the table of the Lord with our brothers and sisters from across the globe:
“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. … The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream. … There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. … I suddenly saw the secret beauty in the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor knowledge can reach the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes.”
Merton’s words remind us that our relationship with God cannot be complete without the other in our midst. As first responders to God’s love for us, we seek to love and see the stranger’s heart through God’s eyes. Communion with God is a gift God has given us and one we should celebrate at all times.
With peace and thanksgiving,
P.S. Thank you sponsoring congregations for remembering our ministry in your newsletters, the constant prayers, the cards and gifts you send to us and our kids, and for you faithful and generous financial support. Our mailbox overfloweth!