Editor’s Note: You can find 2021 NE Synod Assembly Videos and Resources here.
Wendy and I were asked to represent Our Savior Lutheran Church at this year’s virtual Synod Assembly. Many years ago, I had represented the congregation in-person in Springfield, Mass. The downside of the virtual format was the inability to meet-up face-to-face; the livestreaming of the worship service was choppy, and we didn’t “break bread together.”
But, there were many benefits.
- The administrative issues which required voting was handled very smoothly with plenty of advanced preparation.
- All of the various Church’s social justice organizations were well represented and didn’t require individuals walking from one venue to another.
- They were able to pull-off a wonderful tribute to honor the role of the women clergy of the ELCA.
- You were able to clearly hear and see up close the various speakers.
- We didn’t need to look at the back of individual’s heads, and for those that chose to do so we could clearly see their faces.
- We didn’t have to travel to Springfield and stay overnight, but were able to participate in the comfort of our homes.
We realize the need to have an in person Synodical Assembly, but hope that it will also be offered via livestream so others who are interested could at least tune in and observe what is being discussed.
Keynote: Guy Erwin, Univ. Lutheran Seminary President
“We Never Did It This Way Before”
We need to do things in new ways; but we have always been adaptable.
What do congregations do today?
- Sustain themselves, provide continuity
- Provide worship
- Maintain Property
- Offer programs
- Teach the Faith
- Maintain a Pastor
- Support the wider Church body
We trust in Jesus, and count on others
- An established community
- Loyalty to identity
- Support of society
- An appeal to message and custom
Are these relevant?
Church is to offer:
- Blessing, communicate God’s love
- Spiritual nourishment
- Organizing community
What’s ahead for our Church as we know it?
- The Church may experience decreasing resources, as well as decreasing membership
- Looser community, less homogenous group, more diversity
- What are the core values that need to go forward?
Apply Luther today
- Rediscover Grace! Shift from fear of hell, to fear of meaningless
- Finding the Christ in everything
- Inspire, rather than information, how to process religious information
Big tent, little Church
God’s work, though our hands!!!!!
Bishop Davenport’s Sermon
Based on the reading of the Mustard seed. It is planted and then things happen, though no work on the part of the worker. As we go through the seasons of our lives, they are all different, but they are all true.
But we never did it this way before!!!
Mary didn’t say “But Lord, we never did it this way before!”, but the Apostles did question Jesus “But Lord, we never did it this way before!” Do we want to do it this way, or God’s way? Should we strive to work for “normal”, when normal didn’t work for everyone (racial injustice)? Only recently, with respect to women, LGBTQ rights, have we done things differently. True leaders don’t care much about the “role” as much as they care about the “goal”. We need to bring about God’s Kingdom, we need to work to show God’s love!!!
Bishop Hazelwood’s Report Summary and Conversations
It is not going to be the same; there will be challenges and opportunities:
1. Creation of small groups to read, pray and break Bread together.
2. God is outside our “Buildings”, in the world
3. Hybrid church will continue and give access to those who couldn’t pre-pandemic
4. COVID has increased Faith; gathering versus connecting
The Church has an important voice:
- To achieve social justice
- The normal is different, how do we transition into something new?
- The church is not a “club”
- How we learn about Jesus, and teaching his Way
What does the future hold?
- The Bishop sees three basic Christian cultural expressions: Roman Catholics; Evangelical/Pentecostal; and Progressive Liturgical. We will need to partnership with other likeminded denominations, i.e., Episcopalian, Congregationalist, etc.,.
- Congregations will need to experiment, try new “things” even if this means that sometimes we will fail. (we heard from some congregation what they tried).
- “Weirdness”, what makes us different? We are unique; we are being reborn over and over again.
-Paul and Wendy Manganiello