by Elizabeth Hunter—
Lately I’ve been thinking about an old Irish proverb: Change is the breath of life.
I remember learning in grade school how a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly or moth. After hatching from a butterfly egg, the caterpillar eats and eats, shedding its skin several times as it grows. Eventually the caterpillar completely gives up its old format, creating a silk cocoon or chrysalis from which it will emerge, a completely new, winged creature.
For emerging butterflies and for human beings, change is hard. We tend to resist it. We fear it. Yet the nature of change—and the nature of the Holy Spirit—is growth.
In other words, change comes along with the Spirit we also call the Breath of Life. I hope you enjoy, as I have, “The gift of the Spirit,” the Fall 2021 Bible study written by Sara Olson-Smith, associate pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Davenport, Iowa. Olson-Smith’s rich and inspiring study makes it clear that the Spirit has the power to breathe new life into not only our daily lives, but our church structures, programs and even our publications.
Speaking of our publications, this September/October issue of Gather is the first issue to follow a new bimonthly publishing schedule. Print and online subscribers will now receive combined monthly issues in their homes six times a year.
What is behind this change? The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on many publications, including faith-based magazines. When the pandemic caused many groups to stop meeting in person, Gather was affected in two ways. First, although the vast majority of readers continued to subscribe, some let their subscriptions lapse until they could return to meeting in person. Others faced financial, health or other challenges. Second, there was a reduction in income to Gather’s publisher, Women of the ELCA, during the pandemic since many groups did not meet in person to take physical offerings. That reduction, coupled with declining offerings over many years, has created significant challenges for our churchwide organization. Continued staff reductions are a reality. To learn more about the changes and other news, visit: www. womenoftheelca.org/blog/category/news.
Consolidating the number of issues published will help to reduce magazine printing and postage expenses. However, while the number of issues is decreasing, the page count is growing, and Gather video Bible study supplements will continue. In this way, Gather is changing as it continues to provide award-winning resources for faithful readers. Change is the breath of life.
It is my hope that as the pandemic becomes less of a factor, and as we embrace our role as spiritual communities who comfort and challenge each other, churchwide giving will not only return to healthy levels, it will grow. Like the caterpillar, we will emerge from our chrysalis to be transformed in new ways by the Spirit. Thank you for reading and supporting Gather, part of the publishing ministry of Women of the ELCA.
Please visit www.gathermagazine.com and share any comments and questions with us at [email protected].
Elizabeth Hunter is editor of Gather. A lifelong Lutheran, she enjoys sharing stories with her family, walking in the woods and kayaking along rivers where a quiet peace can be found.