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Lutheran Women Learn What It Takes To 'Act Boldly'

7/8/2005 12:00:00 AM

     SAN ANTONIO (ELCA) -- After spending the past three years “listening to God's call,” thousands of Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are making the transition from listening to learning about what it will take to “act boldly” on their faith and life.
     Women of the ELCA's Sixth Triennial Gathering is meeting here July 5-10 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.  The organization's three-year theme, “Act Boldly,” is being unveiled at the convention amid Bible study, keynote presentations, workshops, community service, business sessions and elections.  More than 2,100 women from across the United States and around the world are participating.
     During a July 7 inspiration session called “Finding my Boldness,” Debra Farrington asked participants to individually think about “what in the last three years of listening is so important to you?”  Farrington invited participants to share their individual responses with women sitting beside them.  She also asked participants to think about and share their answers to two questions -- “What is it that you're moving toward?” and “Where do you feel that God is calling you to act boldly?”  Farrington, author and retreat leader, Harrisburg, Pa., said it is important for women to remember that, “when acting boldly, do those things that you can actually pursue.”  
     “God is still calling you, listen with all your heart, and find the courage to act boldly on that calling,” Farrington told participants.
     Seven musicians performed between speakers and Bible study.  The Rev. Sarah Henrich, associate professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., led Bible study.
     Henrich said that the word “bold” in the Bible means “to be confident, to be free.”  She asked participants, “What does it mean to be confident?  And, to whom are we confident?  Confidence is where we put our trust.  For us, confidence is in God” and “God allows us to move forward.”
     Henrich identified three heroes who “sat boldly.”  Deborah, a prophetess and judge in Israel from the Book of Judges in the Christian Old Testament, serves as an example of a woman “who sees what needs to be done and does it.”  Deborah sat under a palm tree between Ramah and Bethel.  The second “sitter” Henrich cited was Rosa Parks, a simple and unapologetic woman who “changed the face of an entire nation.”  Nelson Mandela, the third sitter, “sat in prison for more years than the world should have tolerated.”  Henrich read aloud portions of Mandela's 1994 inaugural speech as president of South Africa.
     Participants also focused on how they are taking control of their health and well-being in order to make a difference in the world.  For the next three years, Women of the ELCA plans to mobilize 3.2 million women in the five-million-member church to improve their own health and the health of others under the initiative “Raising Up Healthy Women and Girls.”
     “If we are going to act boldly, we must begin with our own bodies and with our own spirits,” said Valora Starr, associate for programs, Women of the ELCA.  Starr led a panel discussion of six women featuring some of the gathering's international guests.  The women panelists were seated at a kitchen table, with the stage backdrop depicting a kitchen.  “Tables are often symbols of power, decision making and cooperation,” said Starr.  The panelists responded to such questions as, “What does acting boldly look like for ordinary women” and "How can individual women make a difference in the lives of others?"
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     Information about the Women of the ELCA's Sixth Triennial Gathering is at http://www.womenoftheELCA.org on the Web.
     
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or news@elca.org
http://www.elca.org/news

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