Looking Ahead to 2022
January 2, 2022
Another year passes and a new one begins, and we face the transition with hope but a little bit of trepidation. A year ago we were confident that 2021 would have to be better than 2020, only to find that our confidence was misplaced. We face 2022 a little more cautious with our optimism than we have been in other years. COVID has taught us to assume nothing and to be ready for anything.
As troubling (and exhausting) as this has been, it’s also taught us some things. We have learned to be flexible, to change quickly, to experiment, to try new things and to be patient. These are all helpful traits to take us into a 2022 that’s tinged with trepidation yet filled with hope.
As a church, we in the Nebraska Synod have much to be thankful for in the year past, and much to look forward to with hope in the year ahead.
Increased vaccinations and precautions mean congregations are beginning to see a return to pre-pandemic levels of attendance and participation (though it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever see a full return to those numbers). Vaccinations and precautions also mean it’s possible for synod staff to be traveling to congregations to lead worship, share resources and help people develop into disciples (just contact the synod office to invite one of them to your congregation).
The Vitality Initiative for Congregations continues to engage congregations in cohort learning about who they are and who God has gifted them to be in their communities. The current cohort will complete its first year later in 2022 and continue into 2023, sharing what they learn along the way.
Leadership efforts like the offerings of Emmaus Lifelong Learning have multiplied greatly for 2022, and promise learning opportunities for all levels of engagement and education. For leaders, How Then Will I Lead? continues to be offered as an experience to deepen and broaden self-awareness and leadership skills.
We’ll be gathering for the 2022 Synod Assembly, in person for the first time since 2019. At that assembly, we’ll be selecting the next bishop to partner with us in leading the Nebraska Synod. The election process begins February 5 with cluster gatherings around the state. More information is on its way to your congregation. Please hold this process in your prayers daily.
We will also celebrate with the whole ELCA the National Youth Gathering that will be held in the Twin Cities in July, and prepare for the Churchwide Assembly in Columbus, Ohio in August. Both events are energetic expressions of what it means to be church together, and serve as reminders that we are part of a church that is not only national but global, having an impact on lives and communities all over the world.
Without a crystal ball, it’s impossible to know all that 2022 will hold, but we may in both faith and confidence head into this new year with hope for the mission and ministries we share, knowing the Spirit will continue to strengthen us and inspire our imagination for whatever 2022 might bring.
Written by Bishop Brian Maas