In 2019, we voted at our Synod Assembly to move to an every-other-year business synod assembly. We determined that since one of our guiding principles is cultivating whole and healthy leaders (lay and clergy), we could use the off year to have instead a Synod Gathering. This gathering would be for worship, fellowship, celebration, and workshops across the spectrum of church life. Better still, this gathering would be not just for a constitutional allotment of voting members like an assembly year; it would be for anyone and everyone who would like to attend. That said, our Synod Gathering in 2020 was canceled due to COVID, and this year we plan on having it June 2-4 on the campus of Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory. Accordingly, we will be following L-R protocols, including that all participants be vaccinated (first two shots; boosters preferred but not required).
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the ELCA will be our churchwide representative. She will preach at the Thursday worship service and will deliver a report from the ELCA. The deadline for registration is Monday, May 16, so if you haven’t registered already, please do so now. The many workshops offered range from “Growing Young” (an answer to the FAQ of “How do we get the youth back?”) to an introduction to the new ELCA worship resource and hymnal supplement “All Creation Sings.” Remember when With One Voice came out 27 years ago? This is the corresponding new one for this generation. Other workshops include: “Creating a Culture of Generosity” (growing giving in your congregation), “The Church and Civic Engagement” a social statement being worked on (or “should the church be involved in politics?”), and many more workshops on everything from laughter to welcome.
Learn more, register, and find promotional materials for your congregation on the Synod Gathering event page. You can come for everything for three days, one worship service, one workshop—your choice. We are so very overdue for a chance to be together as a synod. It will have been three years. Please try to join us for part of it if you can.
Synod Gathering will be Thursday through Saturday, June 2-4, in Hickory, North Carolina. Fast forward a couple of months and from Monday through Friday, August 8-12, nearly 1,000 voting members will gather in Columbus, Ohio for the Churchwide Assembly—the highest governance authority in the ELCA. This is where policies are set, constitutional requirements are revised, and positions on social issues are debated and voted on. I encourage you to read more about the 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
The NC Synod has 15 voting members, elected at our Synod Assembly a year ago, who are heading to Columbus, Ohio August 8-12 for the ELCA Churchwide Assembly. I am going to represent our NC Synod as its bishop (St. John’s, Salisbury). Our synod vice president, Diana Haywood (Abiding Savior, Durham), is the other automatic voting member. Elected voting members are Brooke Watson-Summerour from Advent in Charlotte, Pastor Grace Gravelle from Holy Trinity in Raleigh, Doug Nelson from Augsburg in Winston-Salem, Katie Neuhauser from Christ the King in Cary, David Johnson from Church of the Abiding Savior in Durham, Pastor Cassie Overcash from Grace in Thomasville, Mike Hix from Messiah of the Mountains in Burnsville, Pastor Greg Williams, retired and member of Nativity, Arden but serving as Interim Executive Director for Agape+Kure Beach Ministries, Grace Robinson from Kimball in Kannapolis, Deacon Katie Rivers from St. Mark’s in Asheville, Paul Phillips from Good Shepherd in Raleigh, Robin Huffman from Macedonia in Burlington, and Pastor Paul Wollner from Augsburg in Winston-Salem. Several other NC Synod people are going as visitors.
We know we’ll be approving a 3-year budget, electing an ELCA Vice-President (after the sudden death last August of former ELCA VP Bill Horne, who was the churchwide rep for our 2021 online assembly in which we had a bishop election), hearing lots of reports, worshiping daily, and much more. We don’t know yet, since Synod Assembly season is just now starting among the 65 ELCA synods, exactly what resolutions/memorials may come to the floor, but we do expect there to be a number of them about various issues, including at least one synod calling for a re-constitution of the ELCA as a whole.
Please pray for our June Synod Gathering and for the NC Synod voting members and for all of the ELCA in Columbus this August as we celebrate our life together as this church. It’s my privilege to serve among NC Lutherans in these times of upheaval and transition, knowing that the Gospel always undergirds us and provides for the Church what we need in Christ.