“We are at a moment where we need to decide whose corner we are in. Who are we going to align ourselves with?” said Leymah Gbowee, to a packed convention hall at the Women of the ELCA Tenth Triennial Gathering in Minneapolis.
Gbowee, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and ELCA International Leaders scholarship recipient, delivered the keynote address, July 14, reflecting on the gathering theme, “All Anew.”
“Anew is not an event. It’s a process,” she said.
Jesus renews us daily, she said. “We have to understand that every day we are anew.”
Gbowee played a part in ending the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003, assembling thousands of women who prayed in the streets of Liberia to end the war.
After receiving the peace prize, she established the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa and Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. Now her work is focused on providing young girls with educational opportunities.
“When God has called you to be in someone’s corner, you can’t be there partially. It is all the way,” Gbowee said.
The word “all” means you can’t act in a silo, she said. All anew means “linking together and putting all that fire together to the change the world.”
An African parable says that one straw from a broom is easily broken, but breaking all the straws is more difficult, Gbowee said.
Racism is at its peak, domestic violence has increased, wars and rumors of wars are everywhere, she said. “All of us on a daily basis are anew,” she said. “But all of us need to bring that renewal together, to be the troublemakers of the world, to be the firebomb of the world, to change the things that need changing,” she said.
“When you are determined to be in someone’s corner, God will be with you,” she said.
In closing, Gbowee asked the 3,000 women gathered to stand and link arms across the hall.
“God is giving us a light, and as we link, we make it a cannonball,” she said. “God is giving each of us peace, and as we link, it is global peace. He is giving each of us humanity, and as we link across color and creed and ethnicity in this room, it is the humanity of the world.
“God is calling each of us today to be in a corner to align with one another because it is the only way that you can change this troubled world.”
About 3,300 participants of Women of the ELCA, the women’s organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, are in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the Tenth Triennial Gathering (July 14–16).