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 In October 2005, three members of Gloria Dei traveled to Chennai (Madras), India to take part in a consultation with Indian Lutheran companion synods. Pastor Karen Bockelman, Ann Willhoite Bell, and Kylie Dalager joined two others from the Northeastern Minnesota Synod as well as representatives of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod, the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, and the ELCA's Division for Global Mission. Also participating in the consultation were representatives of the Indian Lutheran churches with whom the ELCA synods are in companionship and leaders from the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of India (an umbrella organization which coordinates work among all the Indian Lutheran church bodies.)

Our synod has a companion synod relationship with the South Andhra Lutheran Church (SALC), located in the southeastern part of India. It was founded by a missionary from western Germany in 1865. Through the years there have been strong ties with the German churches, the former American Lutheran Church, and now with the ELCA.

The SALC is a small church body--45 congregations, 48 ordained ministers, about 35,000 baptized members. It is located in a very rural part of the country. Poverty, education, the Hindu majority, health and wellness, and tsunami recovery are all issues which face the church. In addition there has been internal conflict between two factions within the church, factions which appear to be based on caste differences.

The purpose of the consultation was to gain a deeper understanding of the Lutheran network in India, to meet with and learn from our Indian brothers and sisters, to learn about critical ministries (such as an HIV/AIDS project, women's empowerment programs, psycho-social counseling for tsunami victims), to discuss church to church relationships, and to explore collaborative opportunities and practices in doing ministry among all companions.

The Northeastern Minnesota Synodical Women's Organization has been the strongest supporter of our companionship ties with the SALC. All five of our synod's participants in this consultation were women. Ann and Kylie were invited to participate as a sign of the importance of involving younger women in the life and work of the larger church. Thanks to the generosity of Gloria Dei as well as the Synodical Women's Organization, most of Kylie and Ann's expenses were covered.

It was an enriching time for all participants. Please continue to pray for our sisters and brothers in Christ there.

Worship Schedule:
10:00 a.m. Sund

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