The Rev. Dr. Alfredo Oviedo was properly installed as an assistant to the bishop of the North Carolina Synod by Bishop Tim Smith at the 2023 NC Synod Assembly worship on Friday evening, June 2. The installation was overdue, as Pastor Oviedo began his call to serve as an assistant to the bishop for leadership in early February. However, it was important to have the synod gathered to mark the installation.
Nearly 500 rostered ministers (pastors and deacons) from all across the synod were registered for the bi-annual Synod Assembly, taking place at Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, June 2-3, 2023. In order to worship in a space large enough to accommodate the gathered Lutherans, Friday’s worship was held at First Presbyterian Church, Greensboro, a beautiful space with acoustics to match.
The worship, carefully-crafted by Pastors Ward Misenheimer and Meghan Richter, began with a remembrance—a Necrology—of the three NC Synod rostered ministers who entered the Church Triumphant since the 2022 Synod Gathering: Pastor Bill Zima (October 8, 1965-September 6, 2022), Pastor Robert “Buz” Van Horne (June 5, 1943-November 4, 2022), and Pastor Matthew Ernst (October 28, 1939-April 21, 2023).
Journeying through the life of Jesus with Scripture and song, led by guest musician, Pastor John Tirro of St. John’s, Knoxville TN, inspired worshipers to again consider Jesus’ question and the Assembly theme, “Who do you say that I am?”
Bishop Tim Smith preached on the Gospel text of Matthew 16:13-24 which included the theme question (v. 15) but went a little further for context, and to contrast human perspective with divine perspective. Bishop Tim pondered:
What does it mean for Peter or for us to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah? … For those of us that claim to follow Jesus, the answer to “Who do you say that I am?” is absolutely critical, as is our following “What does this mean?” Can we, will we, embrace a power made perfect in weakness? Can we, with Jesus, ask first not ‘what’s in it for me?,’ but ‘what’s in it for them?,’ (whoever the them might happen to be)? Will I, can I, live as if love, not fear or hate is the most powerful force in the cosmos? And that God’s love in Christ frees us to live less for self and more for others?
Jesus calls us to make a response to God’s grace; a daily choice to follow the Lord’s way and not our own. Amen! The hymn of the day that followed, “Source and Sovereign, Rock and Cloud” offered three verses of God-descriptors—fitting language for we who had been and are still considering who we say Jesus is.
Pastor Alfredo was installed just after the hymn of the day and presided at the Sacrament of Holy Communion, speaking the Words of Institution in his native language of Spanish. Several members of his family were on hand for this special occasion.
The chorus of the recessional hymn, “God of Justice (We Must Go),” rang out with a charge for all those gathered: Fill us up and send us out, Fill us up and send us out, Fill us up and send us out, Lord.
The world is weary and we are called. Send us out, Lord!