Pastor Beckmann and I attended the meeting of the South Conference on Monday, April 30. The South Conference is a group of 21 ELCA churches on the South Side of Chicago. The Conference meets regularly to reflect and collaborate on issues of importance for doing vibrant, contextual ministry on the South Side.
At this particular meeting, we learned about:
the Synod's Latino Ministry strategic plan (adopted at the 2011 Synod Assembly) and how to find and use available resources for Latino ministry;
newly reduced rates for members of any Lutheran Church at the Ashburn Lutheran School;
selling fair trade coffee at our churches (good job, Augustana! We already do this!)
preparations underway for an ELCA “Glocal” (Global/Local) Mission Event at LSTC on September 14-15
Pastor Beckmann spoke to the group about the Marriage Equality Bill (Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act) introduced in Springfield this year to provide the benefits of civil marriage for same-gender couples. A resolution to publicly support this bill as a Synod will come to a vote at this year's Synod Assembly (June 1-2).
Attending this meeting helped me to understand the importance of Augustana's participation in the South Conference. We were received very warmly. It struck me that many of the questions that Augustana wrestles with regarding how to do good contextual ministry on the South Side could be clarified and encouraged by collaboration with our ELCA brothers and sisters of the South Conference. I hope that this is the beginning of a revived relationship with the South Conference, and that many of you will have the opportunity to attend one of their meetings.