Bishop’s Reflections

Reflections from Bishop Tim Smith

Never Alone

September, 2023

Why? WHY? Anyone with a toddler knows how this question echoes—or anyone who practices science, philosophy, theology, politics, or just relationships in general. Why implies purpose, cause and effect, and meaning. When people don’t have…

Read More »

A Seed from that Fateful Apple

August, 2023

First of all, I know very little about Artificial Intelligence, or AI. I do know that I have bishop colleagues in other synods who have picked a random selection of lectionary assigned texts—let’s say the…

Read More »

God First

July, 2023

“This Is My Song” (ELW 887), a poem by Lloyd Stone set to the tune Finlandia by Sibelius, was one of my dad’s favorite hymns. In this time of emerging Christian nationalism and resurging American…

Read More »

Astounding Giftedness and Blessing

June, 2023

As I write this, the 2023 NC Synod Assembly ended just late yesterday afternoon. It was wonderful really. Lots of visiting between sessions and during meals, joyful worship, and presentations that were not only informative…

Read More »

Polity & Process

May, 2023

Maybe it’s because just a few weekends ago I led an intensive, nine hours of instruction on the riveting topic of “ELCA and NC Synod Polity and Governance” for our first cohort of SAMs (Synod…

Read More »

What Is a SAM?

April, 2023

So what is a SAM? It stands for “synod authorized minister.” Usually, it’s a layperson who applies to the synod’s program of lay preaching under the larger category of Advanced Lay Ministries and then goes…

Read More »

Your Voice Matters

March, 2023

One of the things I hear with disturbing frequency goes something like this: “This is a top-down church. The ELCA churchwide expression, the churchwide assembly, and the synod make decisions that are completely out of…

Read More »

A (Very) Personal Word

February, 2023

Sharing can be risky and can evoke undue anxiety in systems. So can not sharing. You’ve played “Gossip” or “Telephone,” haven’t you? The intended message gets altered, embellished, etc. One observation I’ve made through the…

Read More »

Holy Light, Holy Darkness

January, 2023

In the strictest sense, white is the absence of color. You can’t mix any colors together to get white. Conversely, black is the sum of all colors—what you obtain by mixing all colors on the…

Read More »

Jesus: Baby, King, Refugee

December, 2022

One of the dominant themes in all of what we refer to as the Old Testament is hospitality. And little wonder, since it largely recounts the story of the Hebrew people and their relationship with…

Read More »

Our Enacted Prayer for the Future

November, 2022

It’s that time of year again. Yes, the strange conflation of Thanks-oween-mas, but also election time. I’m always bewildered that so few people vote—almost always fewer than half of the eligible voters and often for…

Read More »


October, 2022

Isaiah 43:1-2 has long been one of my go-to verses. I do find it a personally comforting reassurance, but it provides a hopeful context in response to the giant “Why” questions when we suffer. Surely,…

Read More »


September, 2022

There’s a word that has resurfaced with a vengeance during COVIDtide and even more so in our gradual realization that we haven’t—and won’t soon, if ever—really emerged from it. The word describes a paralyzing and…

Read More »

Holy Spirit, Guide Us

August, 2022

Here’s a riddle for you. What used to happen every other year and lasted for a whole week or more but now happens every third year and lasts not even four full days? (Some of…

Read More »

God Bless America

July, 2022

“There are three kinds of patriots: Two bad and one good,” theorized the Rev. William Sloane Coffin while preaching at Riverside Church in New York. “The bad ones are the uncritical lovers and the loveless…

Read More »

Like a Family Reunion!

June, 2022

It was like seeing family for the first time in three years. Synod Gathering, I mean. Worship was glorious, and the required masks couldn’t stifle the songs in our hearts that finally, together, rose from…

Read More »

Jesus is Risen! The Church Follows

May, 2022

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…

Read More »

No, He Wouldn’t!

April, 2022

We were having a discussion—okay, an argument—in the Christian Education Committee of my first parish. I was wanting to commune children, and the chair of the committee was adamantly opposed. The topic was unofficially tabled…

Read More »

Hobbits and Ashes

March, 2022

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide….

Read More »

Myth Busters II

February, 2022

Six years ago, merely six months into this call to be bishop, I wrote an e-news article titled “Myth Busters.” In it, I chronicled NC Synod misinformation—much of it somewhat pervasive—around issues such as conflict,…

Read More »

Epiphany—Pay Attention!

January, 2022

More than 2,000 years ago, a surprising and intriguing new star appeared in our galaxy. Hardly anyone noticed, but some did. This coming Thursday, January 6, 2022, is the Feast of the Epiphany. That which…

Read More »

The Re-Gathering Roller Coaster Ride

December, 2021

Just this past week I received seven separate inquiries about the NC Synod Re-Gathering guidelines. They all had a common theme, which I’ll summarize and paraphrase like this: “Hey, we’ve been waiting and watching for…

Read More »

Stewardship Season

November, 2021

It’s not recognized as liturgical, but it’s here in most of our congregations nevertheless: Stewardship Season. It usually coincides with another important but less visible season: Budget Time.  For many, neither is among the more…

Read More »

Advancing a New Plan

October, 2021

At the beginning of 2021, facing a pandemic and a bishop election, our synod staff shared with Synod Council that there would be a “bishop transition” no matter who was elected. The four-year strategic plan…

Read More »