NT-NL SYNOD ASSEMBLY
Nobody sings quite like the Lutherans, and few others have quite so much to sing about.
If you want to see how true both statements are, attend a synod or churchwide assembly. The worship and singing are amazing, especially when accompanied by a 15-piece ensemble of organ, guitar, drums, brass and vocalists - and uplifting and challenging preaching. And the array of information about our ministries, agencies, programs, global outreach and mission efforts is dazzling. Displays, booths, handouts, presentations, and speakers all told the many stories that form the one story about ELCA and NT-NL Lutherans in action.
Clearly the highlight that will make this assembly memorable was the daring challenge Bishop Kanouse offered as he assessed the dying nature of our church - and offered a call to become a truly resurrected church. Twice he received a standing ovation for his ringing words. He called for a "new synod" where energy and resources are directed at bringing resources to the "front lines" (our congregations) and developing skilled and passionate leaders. At one point voting members wrote their ideas about what the synod should do (and no longer do) on beach balls and "bounce the ideas" around the room to stimulate thinking, dreaming and planning for the future.
Synod Assemblies have become Mission Festivals – a time to gather in thanksgiving with the sisters and brothers of the 120 ELCA congregations in northern Texas and Louisiana. The Panhandle Conference certainly prepared a hearty, west-Texas welcome, including a western style banquet complete with a cowboy-poet and cowboy attire. But the real joy came from hearing about the work of the church: There were “Mission Moments” in which our DiscipleLife leaders spoke of our work together. There was an ingathering of medical, educational and building supplies packed into a shipping container by our LYO youth and blessed for its journey to Sierra Leone. There were two large offerings (just shy of $30,000 !!) to support the work in Sierra Leone. There was a welcome visit from Bishop Tom Barnett who braved the eruption of a volcano in order to be present. Saturday afternoon was devoted to short courses on topics important to congregational life and mission. Even voting was fun as the voting members learned to use electronic key pads which then produced instantaneous results projected as graphs on the screen. The key pads allowed for interactive presentations as voting members answered multiple choice opinion questions about the current and future work of the synod. We truly give thanks to God for all that God is doing in and through the NT-NL Synod.
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