2021 Annual Gathering

A Word from the NLS President

Sole Deo Gloria – To God Alone be the Glory       
It is a humbling honor to have been chosen by your delegates to serve as the new President of the NLS Executive Council. I want to personally thank Wendy Showalter for her service over the past four years as President, especially as we dealt with COVID – and as Vice-President for Outreach and as a Regional Coordinator before that. Wendy has been a faithful worker for Christ, using her gifts to further God’s mission here in the Via de Cristo. Well done, good and faithful servant.
I owe so much to the Via de Cristo movement. Nothing else has impacted my daily walk with Christ over the past 23 years more than the lessons I learned on my pilgrim weekend. Meeting in reunion weekly to reflect on my piety, study, and apostolic action, being held accountable and seeking ways draw closer to our Lord has blessed me more than I can say. Team service allowed me to renew my commitment while sharing the wonderful gift of Via de Cristo with others. I have accepted this role in the prayerful hope that, through the power of the Holy Spirit and with the cooperation of all the other members of the Executive Council, we can strengthen and support Via de Cristo communities around the country, helping each of you impact your environments for Christ and training Christian leaders to “bloom where they are planted.” We don’t need a spirit of timidity – we serve an awesome God who cannot be stopped. So long as we stay connected to the power source, we will be victorious. 
And so, I look forward to getting to know more of you and serving with all of you.
God loves you and so do I!
John Aclin
NLS President

Annual Meeting Summary


Wendy Showalter called the meeting to order at 7:50 PM CT, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Delegates were seated and a quorum was established – 67 Delegates verified attending the meeting out of 89 Delegates. 75% of the delegates attended the session. 50% is needed for a quorum.

Opening prayer was led by Pastor Sue Beall.

The floor was opened for nominations from the floor for Secretary, Vice President of Outreach, Vice President of Administration, and President. There were no floor nominations. Nominations were closed. The meeting was recessed until Saturday, July 24th.


Wendy reconvened the meeting at 1:30 PM CT. Pasto Sue Beall led us in prayer. Wendy introduced the Executive Committee, Appointed Committee Chairs, and Regional Coordinators. Please see the binder for all the reports. Wendy also recognized that there are past leadership in attendance today and thanked them


The agenda was approved, and the following leadership was elected:

  • Kim Brownlow – Secretary
  • Karen Weires – Vice President for Outreach
  • Jane Winge – Vice President for Administration for a one-year term by acclamation
  • John Aclin – President

NLS Executive Committee presented a Five-Year Plan update and the financial update was presented and the 2022 Budget was approved. The 2022 Annual Gathering will be held at Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, Texas on July 21-24, 2022. After comments from the outgoing NLS Secretary the meeting as was adjourned.

For a complete list of events, please refer to the minutes posted on the NLS website: www.viadecristo.org.

Keynote Speaker – Rev. Carl Billings

Our keynote speaker, Reverend Car Billings, asked us to consider the following questions: 
  • What is good and noble in your life and in Via De Cristo?
  • From whom can you learn and mentor?
  • Where do you see God’s HS working
The key to all three questions is teamwork. Working together and supporting each other is key to spreading God’s love. VdC isn’t just a one time, weekend program. If we stay connected through renewal groups and the greater VdC community, we can us our lives to do God’s work in greater measure. We should be open to learn from everyone. You know never know when God’s blessings will come your way, or who will deliver them. Keep an open heart and an open mind so you can share God’s love with the world.
Jennie Thomas

Spiritual Directors Breakout

They also discussed how VdC can help churches in their ministry. Some suggestions included VdC members be more active in serving in leadership rolls and bible study, sending a letter to each pastor letting them know their congregation has an attendee at VdC, and sitting down with pastors to talk to them about VdC.  Some ideas on how to get more pastors involved include VdC covering supply fees for both attendees and Spiritual Directors, trying to get on synod Assembly schedules, go to a Seminary class to explain what VdC is, and make sure they understand that VdC is a retreat where the pastor doesn’t have to be in charge.
Pastor Sue Beall

Lay Directors Breakout

Wendy Showalter led the Lay Directors in a discussion on how COVID impacts VdC and our weekends and how to keep the community connected. The topic of whether to wear masks or not was discussed and some ideas on how to handle distancing in the weekend. Some ideas included having people wear color coded bracelets to identify if someone is open to a hug, having people sit with the same group for Rollo room, chapel, and dining, and having a health awareness team for the weekend. Some ideas on keeping the community connected included email blasts, Facebook posts and Facebook Live, Secretariats mailing palanca and letters to the community, virtual Ultreyas, and outdoor Ultreyas.
Barb Hiestrerman

Speaker Pastor Doug Givan 

Reclaim our Mission Without Changing the Essentials 

Pr. Doug Givens, INKY, a former Spiritual Director for National from 2008 to 2012, was the leader for this workshop. At a challenging time when some Secretariats may be tempted to cut some essentials in order to continue having weekends, Pr. Doug reminded us that essential means “absolutely necessary, extremely important.” All our essentials are centered around GRACE, “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.” Grace is the center of our Christian walk. Isaiah 43:19 says, “God is doing a new thing.” But that new thing is and always will be about Jesus. Jesus has not given up on the Via de Cristo and we cannot give up on Him.  
Communion may take the form of individually packaged elements, Discussions and Posters are always key to our understanding, Silent Retreats invite us to be still so that God can work in our hearts, Fourth Days, Reunion Groups and Ultreyas keep the fires in our hearts lit. Essentials change us and help us to grow in our faith. So, what is that new thing? Perhaps summer picnic gatherings with packaged meals and music, perhaps a three-day weekend called Fan the Flame for those who have already made a weekend. Some have developed COVID protocols, COVID Task Forces and instituted Health and Safety or Health and Wellness Chas. If emails go unopened, perhaps we try texting.
Pr. Doug reminded us that it is only 18 inches from our heads to our hearts. We need to listen to our hearts. 
Marilyn Taulbee

EOI: How Are You Renewing the Fourth Day Community? 

During this exciting and informative breakout session, the members of each region spoke on one of these pre-determined topics in a game of VdC Jeopardy: Virtual Gatherings, In Person Gatherings, Palanca /Calling Campaigns, Annual Gathering Delegates.  The regions shared some great ideas, including finding a way to engage the younger members of the community to reunion groups like getting them involved in Ultreyas and other activities, ways to keep the community more informed on what’s going on in VdC through mailings, using Facebook to stay engaged and much more. 

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