Whenever Lutherans gather around a baptismal font and speak these words, it’s a reminder that “from the moment we are born, we are part of God’s family and community, called to reflect the love of God in the world,” said Amy Santoriello, a deacon and director of faith formation and outreach at Zion Lutheran Church, Penn Hills, Pa. The baptismal covenant is one way to describe

faith formation, a lifelong process that “doesn’t start in Sunday school and end in confirmation; it starts with our birth and ends in our burial,” she added. “Faith formation is holding [one another] to our baptismal promises that not only parents and sponsors make, but the whole community.” Brenda Smith, ELCA program director for

faith practices and the Book of Faith Initiative, agrees—it’s why her ministry organizes online resources for congregations and individuals around the five “gifts of discipleship” found in the promises of baptism: to live, hear, proclaim, serve and strive for justice. While in seminary, “[I] saw how a pastor can

make a difference in the lives of others by guiding them in their faith,” she said. “But [I] also realized the importance of going out into the community and sharing the light of Christ.” Martin Luther taught that through baptism

every Christian has a holy calling in the world, a vocation from God that is lived out in work, relationships and every part of our daily lives. Leadership is one such baptismal vocation. Just as Luther insisted that Christian ministry wasn’t limited to priests, monks and nuns, Lutherans today recognize that church leadership is not restricted to pastors and deacons. Leaders come from every part of the church and serve in any number of ways, including behind the scenes.

“Live among God’s faithful people” Santoriello’s leadership “among God’s faithful people” has come full circle: her current call as deacon is to her former home congregation, where her faith was formed through participating alongside

16 JANUARY 2018

her family living out their faith in ministry. “My mother would ask us at night if we ‘did

justice, loved kindness and walked humbly with God today,’ ” Santoriello recalled. “Once when I was 6, the toilet in Zion’s transitional housing unit was broken, and my friend and I were responsible for filling up the tank and flushing it. We did it for hours! That’s how 6-year-olds help. My parents were making sure that lived faith was something they modeled, and we were expected to contribute.” Sometimes it’s a home away from home that

provides Christian community—like Living Water Ministries at Stony Lake, New Era, Mich., which its executive director, C.J. Clark, called “a mission that happens to own a camp.” A former camper and summer staffer, Clark has long known that “camp is a place that creates a space for kids to connect life to God. … [As a camper] I’m hearing about the love of Christ, experiencing it with others, and learning to see Christ in others and in myself.” Five years ago, Clark worked with nearby

synods to create Bridge Builders, a weeklong faith formation and leadership development camp program for high school students that tackles issues of systemic racism. Clark estimates that Bridge Builders has so far served around 130 participants, more than a third of whom are people of color. The program’s success, Clark finds, lies in the

way a camp community “dismantles stereotypes and changes perceptions,” and in the deep connection to God’s presence that encourages people to imagine a world patterned more after “the kingdom of God” and to “carry this real world” back to their regular lives. Youth who have attended Bridge Builders have now begun leading conversations about racism in their synods.

“Hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper” Elizabeth Rawlings, the ELCA pastor of The Sanctuary, the Lutheran/Episcopal campus ministry at the University of Washington, Seattle, recalled a moment that changed her understanding

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