Bishop’s Reflections

Reflections from Bishop Tim Smith

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Bishop’s Reflections2017-01-21T13:41:19-05:00

January 6th, 2020|

On turning 60

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. –Anne Lamott

Early in the morning of January 20, 2020 I will begin my seventh decade. While even as recently as 20 years ago that would have seemed ancient to me, I get that by today’s standards—especially in the church—that’s not such a big deal. Maybe what’s eating at me is that for about 10 weeks Sandra Cline and I will both be “in our 60s.” (more…)

December 2nd, 2019|

Word made flesh

Most of us will gather on Christmas Eve to hear the Christmas story from Luke. It’s understandable. Mark really has no birth story. Matthew is mostly genealogy. I can’t ever hear Luke without thinking of Linus in the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Linus, blanket and all, cuts through everyone’s commercial preparations with his moving recitation of the Lukan Christmas narrative, ending with, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” Well, yes and no. That’s Luke’s version. John approaches it in an altogether different way. (more…)

November 4th, 2019|

Identifying Core Values

Some of you (I hope) will recognize what we’ve referred to as our Purpose/Vision Statement or our Guiding Principles for the NC Synod. To refresh your memory, here it is:

God calls the NC Synod of the ELCA to…

  • Cultivate and Celebrate Vital Congregations
  • Identify, Equip and Nurture Whole & Healthy Leaders
  • Embrace & Engage in Collaboration
  • Proclaim the Promise of the Resurrection with a Prophetic Voice

…all for the sake of the world. (more…)

September 30th, 2019|

Visiting Papua New Guinea

Over 1400 inhabited islands. Over 800 distinct languages. An independent country since 1975. Over 1,000 anthropological-distinct cultures. 27% Roman Catholic. 21% Lutheran. 11% other Christians. Along with the Amazon basin, home to some of the last remnants of Stone Age civilizations. Six degrees south of the Equator. Stunningly beautiful natural tropical paradise. Abundant natural resources including gold and oil. Crocodiles, snakes, and the Bird of Paradise—both the plant the the actual bird. High crime. Highest domestic violence rate in the world. Deep governmental corruption. Virtually non-existent infrastructure. 80% of inhabitants have no electricity or access to clean water. Unbelievingly hospitable people. Deep vulnerability to development and exploitation by businesses of other nations. These are a few of some of my amateur observations after spending a couple of weeks in Papua New Guinea (PNG) last month (plus another week of travel to/from). (more…)

September 1st, 2019|



“Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.”

I wonder how many hundred times I’ve sung those words at camp, on retreats, and in contemporary worship services of the early 2000s. I’ll bet a lot of you know it and have sung it too.

“All who would like to help decorate the sanctuary for the season of Advent are welcome and encouraged to join the altar guild this coming Saturday from 10-2.”

“Please silence your cell phones before entering the sanctuary.”

“How many people will your sanctuary seat?”

All of these are phrases that, if you’ve ever hung around a Lutheran church, you’ve heard some variation of many times. (more…)

August 5th, 2019|

We are church

That’s the theme under which 16 voting members (elected at our 2018 assembly) and about a thousand other folks from the other 64 synods of the ELCA gather for the Churchwide Assembly. What’s that about, you say? Well, it happens only once every three years, and it is the highest decision-making body of this church. It’s happening NOW as this e-news edition is published as we gather August 5-10 in Milwaukee. It has a lot in common with other business/political meetings, but at its core it is communal spiritual discernment. (more…)

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