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Do Not Be Ashamed

The Delaware-Maryland Synod will be having it’s annual Synod Assembly in early June.


The Assembly is where hundreds of representatives from churches in the area (Most of Maryland and all of Delaware) meet to do the business of the church. There are elections for various officers and committee meetings, there are updates about what is happening in the synod, recognition of activities, and worship.


I have served Assembly as parliamentarian since 2003. I have met many wonderful people, I have enjoyed incredible worship services with several hundred people singing. And I thoroughly enjoy being able to tell the bishop, “No, you can’t do that now, you have to do this first.”


Anyway, in preparation for this year’s Assembly, I asked my doctor if there were any particular precautions I should to take.


I explained it was a church gathering with several hundred people. I would be sitting with 2-3 people about 20 feet from the attendees. I would wear my mask and tell people I wasn’t hugging or shaking hands.


The doctor asked if that would cause any problems.


As soon as she asked that I went into a bit of a brain freeze.


I can’t imagine anyone at the Assembly who would give anyone grief over taking steps to protect themselves. I’m not asking others to wear masks. It’s my choice, my action. So my immediate reaction was “No, no one will have a problem with it.”


I should have let it go at that, but for some reason I felt a need to add to it.


“It’s a normal church.” I said it, and realized right away that it wasn’t what I was trying to portray. “It’s Lutheran,” I said.  


On my drive home I started to analyze what had happened. When I said it was a normal church, I was trying to indicate that we were not a church body of “anti-maskers” who would judge someone wearing a mask. 


Then I realized I was ashamed.


I wasn’t ashamed of being Lutheran. 


I was disappointed in myself. In attempting to distinguish my church from churches we frequently hear about in the news, I ended up denigrating other churches, which is not something I ever want to do. I like to think that I coexist with people I don’t always agree with.


I realized I was ashamed that religion had become something that could be so easily challenged and denigrated.

  • Christians are denigrated for not being Christian enough because they support things such as LGBTQIA rights.

  • Christians are denigrated for not being Christian enough because they judge too much and won’t even entertain the idea of supporting things like LGBTQIA rights.

  • All Muslims are terrorists.

  • All Jews are worthy of derision and threats.

  • Atheists are going to hell because they don’t believe in any god.

The world has become very judgmental, particularly about religion. That’s what I was ashamed of.


Religious faith is not uniform. But that doesn’t mean we have to be separated by it.


“Warn [the people] before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.  Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth . (1 Timothy 2:14-15)


Ann Iona Warner


P.S. St. Stephen’s will be represented at the Synod Assembly by Pr. Sue Loney and members Todd Gockley and Michael Farthing. In future years think about volunteering to attend as a representative. It is an amazing experience.


Bill Gohl
Bill Gohl

Beautiful reflection, Ann. We are looking forward to your leadership at Synod Assembly -- and the delegation from St. Stephen's (Trolley Square) gathering with us in Westminster! - Bill Gohl

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