First, we would like to thank the congregation for the opportunity to attend the Synod Assembly. It was a great experience to witness and participate in shaping the Church as we move forward in these challenging times. This was the first in-person assembly since the start of the COVID pandemic and it was clear the roughly 350 attendees were very happy to be able to meet in person not only for the business at hand but also for fellowship.
The theme this year was “Collaborate for Christ’s sake.” Given the divisiveness in this country, this was an appropriate and welcome focus. Given the decline in church membership over the past decades, it is more important than ever for us to work together within the ELCA, with other denominations, local businesses, and non-profit organizations to continue our mission in Christ.
The assembly was introduced to the council which included our fearless leader, Pastor Kyle, as Synod Secretary, recorded the official minutes. His fingers were flying as discussions of the memorials and resolutions were debated extensively. The first was resolution, 22-01 was a memorial calling for reduction of greenhouse emissions by 50% by 2030. Although the baseline for emissions was debated, this resolution passed and will be forwarded for consideration by the national church body.
The second resolution, 22-02 was a memorial calling on the ELCA to call on the President and U.S. Congress to oppose legislation criminalizing support for non-violent protests and sanctions on behalf of Palestinian human rights. This resolution passed and will be forwarded for consideration by the national church body.
Resolution 22-03 was to ban non-disclosure agreements and passed easily.
Resolution 22-04 was submitted late and was the most extensively discussed and debated. This is to form an intentional, anti-racism community within the New England Synod. Although it was widely agreed that this is necessary, the specifics were debated at length and a decision was made to table the resolution and it would be addressed by council.
There were various workshops that related to collaboration with various groups, including immigration, antiracism, approaches to youth ministry, creation care, collaborative worship, in addition to leadership and money matters. While the workshops were interesting, they were so brief as to only give a taste of the topic with limited, tangible information. One small take-away concerning worship was to consider everyone who attends the service is a collaborator. We were called to answer the questions: why do we worship the way we do and who do we not listen to when shaping the service.
There were also several panel discussions highlighting various ministries in our Synod, including youth and campus ministry.
The worship service on Thursday night was quite memorable. It was held at the beautiful Trinity Lutheran Church. It felt like we were in a cathedral and there were many pastors assisting in the worship service which integrated Spanish language, beautiful choir and organ offerings, and various stations for blessings, such as, remembering loved ones who have gone before us, and to commit to denouncing racism. As we sat in this gorgeous church, we felt the evening would have been even better with the space filled with the sound of handbells!
In all it was a fulfilling weekend with one of the best parts being spending time with Pastor Kyle and sharing stories of the use of fire in worship. It was remarkable that every pastor at the table had an out-of-control fire story! Pastor Kyle’s was still the most impressive.
Kent and Trudy Roberts