“Play Ball!”

Within a few short weeks Spring Training will be alive and well in the Grand Canyon Synod. As this annual tradition of Major League Baseball players and fans descend into our midst, I find myself thinking about the amount of resources that are invested and poured into the development of prospects and talent for each of the Major League teams. Over the years I have always enjoyed learning the stories of these gifted athletes. I find it fascinating to learn of the individual who has been the most influential in their development or when they first dreamed about or knew they were destined to play professional baseball. For many there are stories of tee-ball, coach pitch, little league, school teams, and travel teams that have helped develop and nurture the masses to reach the level of even being invited to Spring Training. There are stories of parents and a variety of coaches along the way joined with advice offered by idolized stars in the league.
All of this leads me to think about the identification and call of our future leaders in the Church.  As a wave of clergy retirements is occurring across the ELCA, where will their replacements be found? My Catholic bishop colleagues are increasingly importing their priests from Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Philippines.  Is that the path we will follow? I keep hearing the words of St. Paul in Romans 10:14:  “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?”
Like the future stars of major league baseball being prepared on ball fields and farm teams across America and in other countries, our congregations are the development and recruitment structure for the next generation of pastors. Our bible camps and campus ministries are those places where the Spirit can speak to the gifted and capable women and men to be the next proclaimers. I encourage you to be on the scouting team for the next generation of leaders. Don’t be shy in encouraging another to consider God’s call to ministry. Lay leaders and members of our congregations are also encouraged to offer this invitation to someone open to God’s call. Please have them contact Dr. Teri Traaen, Assistant to the Bishop for Candidacy at tjtraaen@msn.com or call 602.957.3223.
I also encourage you to consider attending our upcoming Synod Assembly with its focus on listening to our seminarians and interns on how they felt God calling them into the ministry and what might we do to encourage others to hear that call.
“Hearing the Call to Lead”
2017 Assembly – Love of Christ, Mesa, Ariz.
Friday, June 9, 9 a.m. — Saturday, June 10, 1:30 p.m.
Thanks,
Bishop Steve

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