Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Chicago’


Children’s Ministry: A Note from Rev. Stephen Bouman

039138472 multicultural hands

Special Guest Blog:  We invited Rev. Stephen Bouman, the Executive Director of Evangelical Outreach and Congregational and Synodical Mission in the ELCA offices in Chicago to address the needs of children within the church, and to talk about a new position being created at the churchwide offices.  Thank you Stephen for sharing with the Network!

When you walk the streets in Arusha, Tanzania, you hear a certain greeting as ubiquitously as “how are you doing?” in our society. They greet each other with this Masai phrase: “Kisserian Injera,” which means, “how are the children?” And the answer in Masai translates as: “it is well with the children.”

It is in this “kisserian Injera” spirit that I am very excited to announce that we in CSM will be posting a new position: Program Director, Ministry With Children. With this position we will now be able to accompany the networks across the church and our society which support the spiritual life and well-being of the first third of life. We will be able to connect to leaders called by the church to support ministry to, and with, youth and young adults. I am very grateful to all of the advocates, supporters, and long distance runners in ministry with children and families. Your faithful service, witness, and holy agitation have helped to make this happen.

I want to thank the Network for lending me the platform of the Network blog. I have been thinking of this question a lot lately: “what do children need in our world today?” These are some which have involved my thinking, prayer and action. You can add your own to the list.

Spiritual Identity: At a day care center for unaccompanied minors (refugee children) who crossed two borders from Central America to flee violence, poverty and reunite with family I had a conversation with a couple who have provided foster care for over thirty of these vulnerable children of God. “They come here so strong in their faith. We pray before meals and at bedtime. They are like little evangelists sharing their faith every day because of their gratitude for being welcomed and support for their spiritual lives.” We all need to know: “you are my beloved child.”

Safety: children are growing up in a world of bullies, gun violence in our schools, malls and neighborhoods, pernicious messages and predators coming at them through the internet, and domestic violence. At the border I spoke with a thirteen year old girl from Honduras whose family was being extorted, whose brother had been killed and she was next.

Advocates\Justice: When we baptize our babies of whatever age we do not leave them at the font. It is baptismal ministry to follow them into the world, to struggle for the quality of their schools, opportunities, mentors, communities.

Strong Communities and Churches: Children need the ballast of strong and durable connections, human solidarity to accompany their lives.

Noble Vision: They need help growing into their agency to make a difference in the world as a way to follow Jesus.

The Hope of Resurrection:

God bless you all as you play your part in an apostolate to, and with, the children of our church and our world.

Rev.  Stephen Paul Bouman
Executive Director
Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission – ELCA
Chicago, Illinois


Leadership Week

Network Leadership week is next week.  Every spring, we link two of of our primary leadership teams together for back-to-back

The Network Board last October

meetings.  Beginning Sunday night, our Network Board will begin meeting in Chicago.  They will finish up on Tuesday at noon.  On Tuesday, our Regional Facilitators will begin meeting and will finish up on Thursday at noon.

Our meetings will be held at “The Lutheran Center,” the building that offices the ELCA churchwide structure.

The agenda for the Network Board includes things like:

  • Checking in with each other
  • Receiving the report of the Executive Director
  • Discussion of possible ecumenical partnerships for the 2014 Extravaganza
  • Reviewing Extravaganza 2012
  • Working on our strategic plan
  • Hearing our 2011-2012 financial plan “to-date”
  • Adopting the 2012-2013 budget
  • A review of Vision 2.0 progress

The agenda for the Regional Facilitators will include things like:

  • Checking in with each other
  • Receiving the report of the Executive Director
  • Reviewing Extravaganza 2013
  • Input into the strategic plan the Board is working on
  • Communication strategies
  • Reviewing our RF “to-do” list
  • Local networking

There are over 130 people involved in some form of Network leadership.  The 20 who will meet next week play key roles in setting vision and policy, and then communicating that to the rest of the leadership, and the Network members.  This is a great group of leaders, who dream big, hairy, audacious dreams of what God might be up to.

We meet every spring in Chicago because we think there is value in being present at the ELCA offices, both for the connections we make there, and the witness to the role of children, youth and family ministry in the greater life of the church.

Please pray for them as they travel, and please pray for powerful and dynamic meetings.

Peace,     Todd