When I have the privilege of hearing Presiding Bishop of the ELCA Mark Hanson speak, I pay attention. Recently I heard Bishop Hanson speak to a group of people gathered to help shape the future of the ELCA Malaria Campaign. Bishop Hanson speaking about malaria? I was all ears.
Here is my interpretation of some of the things that I heard (with apologies; my notes were taken in haste, trying to keep up with his enthusiasm for the topic!):
This is “an Advent moment” in the ELCA. We’re excited to see the new thing that God is doing with us, and we’re leaning into the Holy Spirit for guidance. Because a church can’t be sustained by overcoming challenging times, we must also find a way to make an impact in the world, to do something concrete and forward-looking. The ELCA Malaria Campaign is one of the primary ways we as a church can do that.
Overcoming malaria is doable. It’s something that will tap into the energy of our young people and the passions of our leaders. It’s something that will give ELCA members the joy of being part of what is happening in the world. It’s something that will deepen our existing relationships with our companions and provide achievable goals for us to strive for together. The ELCA Malaria Campaign will begin with the capacity we already have– and our companions in Africa have– and grow from there. We will deepen our partners’ capacity to engage in sustainable development and holistic medicine.
The ELCA is poised to jump wholeheartedly into the ELCA Malaria Campaign, because who we are as a people of God is inseparable from what we do (and what God does through us). Working toward healing and justice is a mark of our self-understanding as a church.
The need is there. ELCA members “get” the vital importance of overcoming malaria and the impact that our partners can make on countless lives. The ELCA Malaria Campaign reflects the priorities of the church and the commitments that we have made to our companions. The time is now!
Amen. May it indeed be so!
~Jessica Nipp, ELCA Malaria Campaign