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TORRINGTON, CT (SZS) With summer comes the many joys that accompany a renewed focus on wellness and self-care, such as much needed vacations and downtime. Yet, many in our Slovak Zion Synod family are also enjoying a sense of renewed love, mission, and Christian identity. As we share some glimpses into summer around our Synod, we invite everyone in our synod family, whether at home, in Sunday worship, on vacation, or preparing to return to their home communities after time away, to join in reflecting on, and giving thanks for, the many blessings which God has provided in our lives this summer.

Our brothers and sisters at Dr. Martin Luther Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, Ohio, are one of the four congregations hosting a student from the seminary in Bratislava this summer; we thank them for being a blessing to others, while welcoming them as newcomers to this particular program which provides a hands-on training experience for future pastors and leaders in Central and Eastern Europe. In conjunction with their participation in this ministry of the Synod, Bishop Wilma Kucharek delivered a presentation on July 15 about the various missions and ministries of our Synod; the presentation demonstrated our Synod’s global partnership in such areas as Seminary Support, Leadership Development, Church Restoration, and Social Ministries to the Elderly, Disabled, and those in need. The presentation was gratefully received, and complemented the summer theme of mission in the congregation that was highlighted with the arrival of their Immersion Program seminary student, Samuel Pecka. Samuel’s very presence, in addition to this presentation from Bishop Kucharek, has pointed to the sense of missional identity of not only Dr. Martin Luther Church, but other congregations and people of the greater Cleveland area as well.

The congregation of Nativity Lutheran Church in Windsor, Ontario, and the family of our Rev. Rastislav Micovsky and Andrea Micovsky celebrated the wedding of their daughter Kristina several weeks ago on July 20. Our Synod family rejoices with them and their extended family, which made the journey to Windsor to be together in celebrating this milestone of marriage and the blessed creation of a new family. May God bless this marriage and, as they begin their new life together, may they be a blessing to others.

United Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg, PA hosted a presentation on July 25 by the Rev. Dr. Thomas J. Drobena on the research surrounding the Shroud of Turin, traditionally regarded by the Roman Catholic Church as the burial shroud of Christ. Supplementing the presentation were slides and two life-size copies of the Shroud to demonstrate the points of interest uncovered in current research.

Missional Identity is connected to our purpose here in our Synod family, but the foundation and cornerstone to this is found in our connection to Christ and our Christian identity. Martin Luther calls us to remember our baptism into Christ frequently, even daily. Therefore, let us reflect on our own baptisms once again as we join the family of our Rev. Michael Johnson and Rev. Katie Johnson, as well as the greater church family of Dr. Martin Luther Lutheran Church in Muskegon, Michigan, which celebrated the Holy Baptism of Pr. Mike and Pr. Katie’s son, Samuel, on July 29, with Bishop Kucharek presiding and delivering the homily. Our Bishop set the tone for the rite when she preached on the resurrection of Lazarus, and how, in our baptismal covenant, we are all called by name to come forth from our tombs, be unbound from our ties to sin in our lives, and raised to newness of life in Christ.

As we reflect on, and give thanks for, the many blessings which God has provided in our lives this summer, let us be mindful that through our baptism into Christ Jesus, we are all called to be a blessing, in Christ’s name, to others. Thanks be to God!