Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday have all gone. It's well into December. Already. Christmas will come soon enough and then … 2017 and beyond.
As I look forward to the next year, I am struck by the uncertainty of it all for our communities. Perhaps now more than ever, it seems no one knows what the next year holds. For Washington and a new administration. For Britain and the EU. For the entire global community.
When reflecting on the future, I find myself and many of my neighbors focusing on the uncertainty of change. In this state of the unknown it becomes easy to lose sight of hope. So instead of looking forward into the uncertain future, I'm going to briefly look back to the concrete past of the last year. When I do, I realize that we are not alone.
In my last 7 months at Lutheran Services in America, I have met some incredible people serving in Lutheran social ministries throughout the country. These people heed God's call to love and serve their neighbors. They promote justice and mercy in their communities. And they give me hope. They give me hope because no matter what 2017 and beyond brings, these individuals and all of the members of the LSA network will continue to serve their communities and walk with their neighbors in need:
Rev. Dr. Leonard Killings
Lutheran Urban Community Ministry
I met Leonard on a recent trip to Ohio. In addition to his position as a parish pastor, Leonard leads a group of volunteers from local Lutheran churches that run food pantries distributing over 1 million pounds of food per year. Leonard's commitment to feeding his neighbors provides hope that we will continue to fight hunger.
Director of Development and Communications
Seafarers International House
New York, New York
I met Chris on my first ever visit to the Big Apple. Chris shares the stories of seafarers and asylum seekers, and advocates for their embrace in our communities. Chris's passion for welcoming those seen as strangers provides hope that we will continue to serve all our neighbors, regardless of their background and country of origin.
Rev. Deborah Hutterer
Chief Development Officer
Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest
I met Deborah at the LSA Annual Conference in April. Deborah gathers resources for LSS, including their programs supporting early childhood education and development. Deborah's unique approach to supporting the success of our children and families provides hope that we will continue to give the smallest among us a path to successful adulthood.
Leonard, Chris, and Deborah give hope, even in the uncertain future. So do the over 250,000 staff and 100,000 volunteers who serve in Lutheran social ministry. Their unchanging commitment to service means that no matter what 2017 and beyond hold, we have reasons to hope. We have hope because just as we have done in the past, we will continue to meet the suffering of our neighbors with mercy and counter the inequities in our communities with justice.