Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Post Card from Geneva

2nd Guest Blogger for the week
From the Rev. Dr. Maria Erling, who is co-teaching a special 9 day course (December 1-9, 2009) on Ecumenism in Geneva, Switzerland. Erling is the Seminary’s Associate Professor of Modern Church History and Global Mission.

Erling writes:
I've been in Geneva all of 24 hours and hit all the hot spots - the Ecumenical Center, the Reformation Museum, and... The Archives! I've already found traces of our own A R Wentz in the Michelfelder files. “A.R.” lives once again!

The weather has been very nice, too, and there are mountains here, just as the postcards promise. Snow on Mont Blanc is nice. There were protests today in the downtown section of the city as groups were conducting a tour of offending global warming corporations present in Geneva. It reminded me of a tour my husband John and I took of the Jewish settlements around Jerusalem last June. Young people are organizing around this global issue more actively than we see in the US.

The group that I am working with this time is mostly composed of assistants to the bishop, and regional coordinators, who are here to learn to know the work of the LWF and WCC more closely. Staff from Geneva include Kathryn Johnson, who is the assistant for ecumenical work to the General Secretary, Ishmael Noko, and Tita Valeriano, who is the North American regional representative of the LWF. Her office is shared between the ELCA and the ELCIC. There are two leaders from Canada, David Pfrimmer and Paul Johnson, and 3 other participants also from Canada.  The ELCA leaders are Lanny Westphal, Michael Trice, and me, and the participants hail from California, Washington, Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware, Alaska, Oregon, North Carolina, Iowa and Texas.  What I've noticed about our discussions so far is that the experience with companion synods and with immigrant church groups in the US - and leadership needs associated with this outreach - is commanding more attention from synods. I'm also realizing that for most of our congregations, the work of the synod represents the wider church - there is virtually no distinguishing among national, international, ecumenical for most members of congregations.  This presents a challenge for synod leadership, because they have to interpret so many different types of relationships.

Tomorrow we go to the Bossey Ecumenical Institute, where I will no doubt find more small stones with little white lines.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Happy to hear that you arrived there safely. See if you can send some of that snow back to Gburg, we could use some of the fluffy stuff to get the inner children in us some time to play. Of course, we play while we are dutifully working on our HoL projects! >.>