Lutherans in the Twin Cities

South Minneapolis cluster of congregations attend GME

Four parishes sent their participants in a car caravan to Columbus, Ohio

An annual celebration of global outreach ministry brings ELCA Lutherans together at midsummer. This year’s Global Mission Event (GME) was held July 19-22 on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus.

According to an online statement provided by ELCA Global Mission, the GME is intended to deepen the participant’s understanding of the accompaniment model for mission. The model is based on mutuality and the gifts of everyone.
The GME, while obviously a global event, is attended primarily by Americans. According to Ralecia Hamm, the registration organizer, there were 1,500 participants on hand in Columbus, with just over 4.5% — 70 individuals — from Minnesota.

Twenty-five Twin Citians who showed up were members of the various congregations of the Minneapolis Area Synod’s City South Cluster, composed of Epiphany Lutheran, Bethel Lutheran, El Milagro Lutheran and Messiah Lutheran (see photo).

This was the first year that participants from all four of the congregations of this cluster attended together. The group of congregations made the 1,630-mile journey to Ohio in a caravan of four vehicles.

The Rev. Judy Burgitt-Winzig, who has attended 18 GME events, serves two of the four clustered congregations. At Epiphany she is pastor. She serves El Milagro as interim pastor. Burgitt-Winzig said she believes the GME is important because it helps people see themselves within a global context, as members of a worldwide community.
“I don’t think we (congregations of the City South Cluster) would have the partnership in Kogi, Nigeria, if people hadn’t attended (the GME).”

Burgitt-Winzig said there are several ways the GME impacts congregational life.

“We have already begun using an international song [we learned at] the GME,” she said.

Reflecting on a concern picked up at GME, Brenda Froisland, the Youth and Family minister at Bethel Lutheran, added, “The youth of our congregation are going to do a fund- raiser of some sort and I am sure it will center around water and the use of it.”

Said Froisland, “I know I haven’t opened a new bottle of water since I’ve returned. I’ve been refilling the one I have now — from the tap.”

The GME hosted a general session each night, several plenary sessions throughout the day, various daylong breakout sessions focused on a social justice topic, morning and evening devotions and youth-oriented programming.
Froisland said her fav-orite part of the event was a presentation by Rwandan genocide survivor Imma-culée Ilibigiza. She spoke about how she survived for 91 days in a 3 x 4 bathroom with seven other women and dealt with the difficulty of forgiving those who tried to murder them, while maintaining her belief in God. Since then Ilibigiza has begun working for the United Nations and has written a book about her experience.

“Afterward we had discussion about the situation and created a 3×4 area that eight of our youths stood in during the discussion,” Froisland said.

Burgitt-Winzig and Froisland both felt another benefit of attending the GME was that it helped members of the congregations of the City South Cluster to begin to bond.
“Youth connected on many levels that wouldn’t have [occurred] if it hadn’t been for attending the Global Mission Event.”

Froisland and Burgitt-Winzig are considering making the GME a requirement for confirmation. “They (the youth) should know there is more to Christian life than getting through the catechism,” Froisland said.

Burgitt-Winzig observed, “Attendance (at the GME) keeps getting younger and younger and those youth are going to have a large impact on the church at the local and national level. I hope [the GME] continues to have programming geared to youth,” she added.

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Cosgrove served as a summer writing intern at Metro Lutheran. He has returned to Grand View College, Des Moines, Iowa, for his senior year of studies.