“He said to me, “Mortal, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart and hear with your ears;” (Ezekiel 3:10).
In Ezekiel chapter 3, we read about Ezekiel’s call by God to serve as a prophet. This call involves speaking hard words that the people of God do not want to hear. But this call also involves receiving God’s Word with our ears and holding God’s Word in our hearts.
During this past week, I was in Chicago for the Fall Conference of Bishops meeting. Our time together was spent in worship, in generative conversation, and in the hearing of reports. We covered a number of topics including: reflections and next steps from the August Churchwide Assembly in Columbus, best practices for walking with congregations that are closing, anti-racism work, the future of theological education in the ELCA, and conversation around the restructuring of the ELCA’s Candidacy Process (Candidacy is the process of discernment and preparation leading individuals called by God to approval for public ministry in the Church as a Pastor or Deacon).
The highlight of the Fall Conference of Bishops meeting was the Fund for Leaders Banquet and 25th Anniversary Celebration held on Friday evening, where I was blessed to hear several powerful call stories from a number of students who are currently studying at one of our ELCA seminaries.
The ELCA Fund for Leaders began in 1997, with the dream of providing full scholarships for students to attend an ELCA seminary to become a pastor or deacon. In the past 25 years, nearly 1200 pastors and deacons have been helped with ELCA Fund for Leaders scholarships. For the first time, 80 TEEM (Theological Education for Emerging Ministries) students received scholarship awards. In total, 375 students received scholarships in the amount of $3.4 million in 2022. Many of the recipients of Fund for Leaders scholarships were present at the Friday evening 25th Anniversary Celebration banquet.
Here in Northwestern Ohio, we celebrate with Jacinda Jones, a member of Trinity, Arcadia, who received a Fund for Leaders Full Tuition Scholarship to attend Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. Jacinda will be participating in Wartburg’s Collaborative Learning Program.
As God called the Prophet Ezekiel and Seminary Student Jacinda Jones, so God continues to call men and women to preach and teach God’s Word. Maybe God is calling you?