On “being there.”

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Proclaim members gather at #decolonize16. Photo credit: Emily Ann Garcia
Proclaim members gather at #decolonize16. Photo credit: Emily Ann Garcia

“The day was filled with new and renewed connections, learning, sharing, dreaming, disillusionment, honesty, and hope for what’s to come.”

by Amalia Vagts
Executive Director

In his essay, “Oh, you should have been there!” Joel Workin wrote about a question which had been haunting him, “What does it mean to proclaim that “death is swallowed up in victory” to a community that is swallowed up in death?”

Joel was writing in the middle of the AIDS crisis in the late 1980’s. He had just returned from the 1987 March on Washington. A friend wanted to hear the stories – not about the numbers of the crowd or the speeches or the liberation that comes with such an event. She wanted to hear about the  Names Project – AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Joel went on to write, “The God of the march is the God of the quilt. The God of the resurrection is the God of the cross.”

Questions Then, Questions Now

This essay came back to me as I have been reflecting on the inaugural #decolonizeLutheranism gathering just over a week ago in Chicago. I’ve been thinking about what it means to “be there.” Death, suffering, liberation, resurrection. How do we find liberation in the middle of all this pain? I heard stories of suffering and shared some of my own. I experienced the unsettling feelings that come with being in a boat in turbulent water – better to lay down in the boat? Better to take over the rudder? Better to stand up and dive in the water? Better to reposition myself and others for better balance?

Throughout the day, we dwelled in the uncertainty of these questions. The day was filled with new and renewed connections, learning, sharing, dreaming, disillusionment, honesty, and hope for what’s to come.

Together We are the Church

I was happy and not at all surprised that there was a strong showing of Proclaim folks present on the planning team and as participants. Fabulous! We managed to get most Proclaim folks together for the photo above.

Last month, we invited the Rev. Tita Valeriano to share some thoughts in advance of the gathering. Tita was on the #decolonize Lutheranism organizing team and part of Proclaim. If you missed her post, you can read it here. I also invite you to read more about the movement here and check out reflections from two of the organizers of the event. Both are reposted below with permission from the authors – Francisco Herrera and Lenny Duncan (who, by the way, is the vicar at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church where Proclaim member Bryan Penman is pastor – and the featured congregation in our Enrich & Transform video!)

What It’s All About
by Franciso Herrera – Ph.D. student, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

Dear Church:  #DECOLONIZE16 Happened 
by Lenny Duncan – Vicar, St. Marks Lutheran Church

We’re all in this boat together. Or in the water. Or somewhere in between.



Amalia Vagts, executive director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, is into protesting, reforming, and Mutual Invitation.


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