Reflections

>Reflections

Posts of Bishop Tim Smith’s reflections

Vitality

2018-07-02T15:08:36+00:00July 2nd, 2018|Categories: Don't Miss, Reflections|

Vitality

Vital Congregations. Healthy Leaders. Collaboration. Prophetic Voice. These are the four pillars of the new vision and focus of the NC Synod staff and Synod Council unveiled at our NC Synod Assembly just over a month ago. Vital Congregations and Healthy Leaders also happen to be the two consensus priorities of the ELCA Church Council and of the ELCA Conference of Bishops. So what is vitality?

2018 Synod Assembly

2018-06-02T23:50:25+00:00April 30th, 2018|Categories: Assembly News, Don't Miss, Reflections|


2018 Synod Assembly

There are numerous reasons one might attend a synod assembly like our upcoming one June 1-2 in Raleigh. Maybe it’s duty, as in, at a congregation council meeting, “Okay, people, somebody has to go. Our constitution requires it.”

Youth Gathering exposed

2018-04-02T15:30:02+00:00April 2nd, 2018|Categories: Don't Miss, Reflections|

2018 ELCA Youth Gathering Logo

Youth Gathering Exposed

I was minding my own business, which was Redeemer in Atlanta, three years ago when final preparations were being made for the triennial ELCA Youth Gathering (Gathering) in Detroit. That is to say, I wasn’t really paying close attention. We had others on staff planning to go.

Fast forward three years, and it’s Gathering time again, this time in Houston, and this time I am the bishop.

Conflict

2018-03-05T12:00:18+00:00March 5th, 2018|Categories: Don't Miss, Reflections|

Over 90% of us, psychologists claim, are fairly serious, go-out-of-our-way conflict avoiders! We’re path-of-least-resistance people. I’m guessing that if surveys were done only in the South, the conflict avoiders would be north of 95%.

Reflections on Lent

2018-02-05T10:21:00+00:00February 5th, 2018|Categories: Don't Miss, Reflections|

Reflections on Lent

The penitential seasons of Advent and Lent have always been renewing for me. They are headed somewhere, for all their reservation, to something hopeful and joyous. Even more appealing to me is their invitation to discipline.

Shifts happen

2018-01-02T08:54:11+00:00January 1st, 2018|Categories: Don't Miss, Reflections|

man-choosing-path

Shifts happen

A most blessed New Year to each of you!

As you read this, I am at Bishops’ Academy (annual continuing ed. for bishops) and preparing for our January 9 synod-sponsored trip to the Holy Land. I want to share with you some re-visioning that our (mostly new since I took office 2 ½ years ago) synod staff has been praying and working on and that Synod Council is now pondering and tweaking and that will come to fruition in, we hope, increasingly tangible ways in this new year.

Credo for Advent

2018-01-02T08:55:58+00:00December 4th, 2017|Categories: Don't Miss, Reflections|

Credo for Advent image

Credo for Advent

Credo. Latin for “I believe.” We all believe in something. We all have that pebble tossed into the pond of our life, a center, from which all of our values and convictions and actions emanate. Scientific method. Logic. Trickle-down economics. Karma. God. That something, that center, is what or in what we believe.

Thankfulness in all things

2017-11-05T17:34:48+00:00November 5th, 2017|Categories: Don't Miss, Reflections|

thanksgiving-fruits-veggies

Thankfulness in all things

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Martin Rinkhart was a Lutheran pastor in Germany in the early 1600s. The Thirty Years’ War was raging throughout his ministry at Eilenberg, a tragic fallout from the Reformation we just commemorated that pitted not just theologies and pieties but weapons of war, Lutheran against Catholic. Eilenberg was a walled city, so thousands sought refuge there from the horrors of war. The resultant overcrowding caused both hunger and disease.

Caribbean Disaster Relief

2017-10-02T15:22:54+00:00October 2nd, 2017|Categories: Don't Miss, Reflections|

Caribbean Disaster Relief image Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for the Washington Post via Getty images

Caribbean Disaster Relief

I write to you this month from the ELCA Conference of Bishops, where we have been eagerly awaiting word from our colleague Bishop Felipe Lozada of the ELCA’s Caribbean Synod, which includes the devastated U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and Puerto Rico. The destruction was so very great from the two Category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria that we did not hear from him until this past Friday.

Together?

2017-09-04T21:52:31+00:00September 4th, 2017|Categories: Don't Miss, Reflections|

four-hands-clasping-each-other

Together?

I was privileged during the summer between high school and college to attend 23 days of Outward Bound in the Colorado Rockies. I was told that we would be climbing 14,000-foot peaks with very thin air, carrying heavy packs, and surviving on minimal food. Though I was a serious high school athlete in very good shape, I took seriously Outward Bound’s advice to run in our boots in advance to break them in. By the time my flight left for Denver from Charlotte, I was jogging on average 8 miles a day, 5 days a week, in my hiking boots.

A pastoral message from Bishop Tim Smith

2017-08-15T21:27:18+00:00August 15th, 2017|Categories: Don't Miss, Reflections|

Smith

A pastoral message from Bishop Tim Smith

When Wendy and I lived in Berlin on our seminary internship in 1984 and 1985, horror stories of the Nazi Regime of the ‘30s and ‘40s in Germany regularly shocked us. There was the spouse of a retired pastor whose reach across the dinner table to pass us the bread revealed her concentration camp serial number tattooed on her wrist.

All she had…

2017-07-31T09:34:34+00:00July 31st, 2017|Categories: Don't Miss, Reflections|

image of red heart on faded wood wall

All she had…

Jesus sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)

Partners congregational visits

2017-07-05T11:40:54+00:00July 2nd, 2017|Categories: Don't Miss, Reflections|

Partners congregational visits

Synod Council members at our December 2015 meeting lamented that Mission Support receipts were nearly $178,000, or about 10%, behind budgeted expenses. The Council directed the NC Synod staff to develop a program whereby representatives would be trained to go to all of our congregations to lift up the many vital ministries of the synod in hopes of a much needed uptick in mission support.

Still, as I traveled about the synod, I realized how many of our congregations are struggling.

Holy Week

2017-04-04T09:40:31+00:00April 3rd, 2017|Categories: Don't Miss, Reflections|

Jesus carrying the cross artwork

Holy Week

My father-in-law always intrigued me with the stack of novels he brought to the beach for family vacations. Even more interesting was his habit of reading the last chapter first, wanting to know how the story ended, 

A culture of call

2017-03-16T11:57:24+00:00March 6th, 2017|Categories: Don't Miss, Reflections|

A culture of call

A Culture of Call

As I write from the ELCA Conference of Bishops in Chicago this first week in March, there are many blessings to celebrate, yet many obvious and pressing challenges facing this church.

Lenten message from the bishop

2017-02-07T10:40:56+00:00February 6th, 2017|Categories: Reflections|

Lenten message from the bishop

Editor’s note: Though Lent doesn’t begin until March 1, Bishop Tim wrote this in time for congregations to include it in their March newsletters or Lenten bulletins.

“Lent” actually comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word “Lencten,” which we would translate “lengthen,” referring to the lengthening of days or springtime.

Prophetic voices

2017-02-07T11:59:12+00:00February 6th, 2017|Categories: Don't Miss, Reflections|

image of loudspeaker

Prophetic voices

If your measuring stick is the number of phone calls to the bishop’s office in the NC Synod to register complaints about their pastor, the first week in February is the winner thus far in my 18-month tenure. The reason?

What does a bishop do, anyway?

2017-01-11T21:49:20+00:00January 11th, 2017|Categories: Reflections|

What does a bishop do?

Okay, so what does a bishop do anyway?

Or for that matter, what does a synod do? I’ve noticed that several of my colleagues regularly post their weekly schedule on Facebook or in a newsletter. I won’t bore you each week with that just yet, but it might be helpful for you to have this snapshot into my month of January:

Polarities

2017-01-11T21:51:28+00:00December 6th, 2016|Categories: Reflections|

Plus and Minus signs

Polarities

At the ELCA/Alban Institute “Head of Staff Seminar” in 2000, Roy Oswald spent an afternoon talking with the group about polarities. He drew a big “plus sign” or cross on the board, put “plus” signs in each of the two upper quadrants and “minus” signs in each of the two lower. Then he said something like,

Advent/Christmas

2017-01-11T22:23:24+00:00November 15th, 2016|Categories: Reflections|

Advent Magi scene

Advent/Christmas

Yes, it’s only mid-November, and yes, I’m not one who tolerates well a Christmas focus before Advent and Thanksgiving. Consider this article like the choir that needs to start on its Christmas music preparation several weeks in advance.