Synod Gathering 2024




Synod Gathering is May 30-June 1, 2024

Everyone from your congregation or ministry is welcome!

Synod Gathering 2024 is scheduled for Thursday, May 30 – Saturday, June 1, at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory. Church members and visitors, pastors, and deacons from across the synod will gather to develop community, grow in faith, and grow skills for building God's church. All are invited! You are invited!

2024 Theme—We Are More!

"in all these things WE ARE MORE than victorious through him who loved us." Romans 8:37

Through Christ, together, we are more. In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote that together, through the love of Christ, the church would prevail—in fact they were more than victorious. We are more than victorious against the challenges of today's world when we hold one another in the love of Christ. We belong to each other. Together, we witness and share Christ’s love. Walking together, WE ARE MORE.

Details

YOU Are Invited!

This is an opportunity to meet and fellowship with people from across the synod—AND it's not just for pastors! Church members and visitors, deacons, pastors, and church professionals will gather to learn, play, worship, and grow together.

Download Promotional Material for your congregation.

LOCATION: Lenoir-Rhyne University, Hickory

Lenoir-Rhyne University
625 7th Ave NE
Hickory, NC 28601

DATES: Thursday, May 30 - Saturday, June 1
Each day is designed to stand alone—come for one, two, or all three days!

Key Dates
Early Registration: April 24
Final Registration: May 8
There will be no onsite registration. Please register by May 8.

Pricing (Early Registration)

Early Registration Program Fees:
1 day: $45
2 days: $75
3 Days: $100

Lodging per night:
Shared room: $35
Single room: $45

Meals:
Breakfast: $9
Lunch: $11
Dinner Thursday: $20
Dinner Friday: $18

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW!

Please Note: To honor relationships with ministry partners and vendors, we may not be able to accommodate any late registrations (or you may be asked to cover additional fees).

HOUSING: On-campus housing is available at cost or you may choose to arrange your own accommodations at a Hickory area hotel. Negotiated rates are available at Hilton Garden Inn (1320 17th St Dr SE, Hickory, NC 28602) and Hampton Inn Hickory (1956 13th Ave Dr SE, Hickory, NC 28602).

MENU: Meals are included in registration. Most meals will be provided by Lenoir-Rhyne except for Thursday dinner. On Thursday, participants will enjoy dinner during the Synod Block Party prepared by The Dwelling's (Winston-Salem) Minister of Meals.

Allergies and other accommodations should be noted in your registration.

This webpage will be updated with the latest Synod Gathering information. Check here for updates!

Questions about Synod Gathering?
Contact Lexi Barnhill.

You are Invited. All Are Invited!

Schedule

Thursday, May 30

  • 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM:  Check-in

  • 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM: Tour of Lenoir-Rhyne

  • 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM: LUNCH

  • 1:00 PM – 2:15 PM: Opening Worship—Bishop Timothy Smith, preaching; Commissioning of Lay Ministers

  • 2:15 PM – 2:30 PM: BREAK

  • 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM: Keynote—The Rev. Dr. Jay Augustine, Sr. Pastor of St. Joseph AME Church, Durham

  • 3:30 PM – 4:00 PM: BREAK

  • 4:00 PM - 5:15 PM: Workshops

  • 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM:  Dinner & Synod Block Party

Friday, May 31

  • 9:00 AM – 9:30 AM: Morning Prayer
  • 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM: Keynote—Iain Chester, Director of Innovation, ELCA
  • 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM BREAK
  • 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM Workshops
  • 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM LUNCH
  • 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM Spiritual Practices Workshops
  • 3:15PM - 3:30 PM:  BREAK
  • 3:30 PM - 3:45 PM: Celebrations & Anniversaries; Bishop’s Address
  • 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM: Evening Vespers with Lutheridge
  • 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM: DINNER
  • 7:30 PM: Fellowship (on your own)

Saturday, June 1

  • 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM: Workshops—Intensives
  • 11:00 AM – 11:15 AM: BREAK
  • 11:15 AM- 12:15: Closing Worship—Youth participants
  • 12:15 PM - 1:00 PM: Boxed Lunch
  • 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Service Project
  • 3:15 PM - 3:30 PM: Beignets & Blessings—ELCA Youth Gathering Commissioning; Youth Groups Pick Up T-Shirts & Bags
  • 3:30 PM: Go in Peace

Worship

Thursday

1

Together, We Are More!

NC Synod Bishop Tim Smith is preaching opening worship! Worship will also include the Commissioning of the most recent Lay Preaching cohort!

Friday

Lutheridge Synod Gathering

Camp is Coming to Us!

During Bishop Tim's stage time, we will learn what God is up to at Lutheridge—and our camp leaders are sticking around to share a glimpse of camp, leading Synod Gathering in Vespers later in the day! You won't want to miss it.

Saturday

3

Return to Youth Group!

Saturday's worship will feature the NC Synod Youth Band and the synod's ELCA Youth Gathering Champion, Deacon Beka Forst as our preacher. Later in the afternoon, we will enjoy Beignets & Blessings—including the ELCA Youth Gathering Commissioning.

Keynote Speakers

Jay-Augustine_1079x1345

The Rev. Dr. Jay Augustine
Senior Pastor of St. Joseph AME Church, Durham; Professor, Author

Prior to Dr. Augustine’s current pastoral service, he led Historic St. James AME Church (1844), in downtown New Orleans, the oldest predominantly black, Protestant congregation in the Deep South, while simultaneously teaching at Southern University Law Center. He recently served as a visiting professor at North Carolina Central University Law School and as a consulting faculty member at Duke University Divinity School, where he is also a member of the Board of Visitors and a missional strategist with the Center for Reconciliation.

Augustine’s most recent books are When Prophets Preach: Leadership and the Politics of the Pulpit (Fortress Press, 2023) and Called to Reconciliation: How the Church Can Model Justice, Diversity and Inclusion (Baker Academic, 2022). After graduating from Howard University, with a degree in economics, Augustine served as a decorated infantry officer in the United States Army. He earned his law degree at Tulane University. He served as a law clerk to Chief Justice (then-Associate) Bernette Joshua Johnson at the Louisiana Supreme Court before practicing law and serving in both publicly elected and appointed offices in Louisiana. After accepting the call to ordained ministry, he earned his M.Div. degree at United Theological Seminary before completing a fellowship at Princeton Theological Seminary and earning his D.Min. at Duke University. Dr. Jay Augustine is married to Michelle Burks Augustine. They are the parents of two college students.

“Most important, Jesus teaches how not to draw boundaries of us-versus-them and how to embrace the proverbial other...”

Chester

Iain Chester (he/him)
Executive Director for Innovation, ELCA

As Executive Director for Innovation, Iain works with leaders and teams across the ELCA as they try new things and create a culture of innovation and collaboration. He believes the church has a big part to play in the future of our world and likes to hear the stories of the creative ways people are making that happen.

Iain has served with the ELCA Churchwide Organization over the past eight years in a variety of roles, including as Manager for Network Engagement with ELCA World Hunger. During his time with ELCA World Hunger, he worked with a network of over 2,500 congregational leaders across the ELCA working toward a just world where all are fed. Iain is a graduate of North Park University, Chicago, Illinois and enjoys watching soccer, walking his dog and exploring local restaurants.

"The church has a big part to play in the future of our world..."

Workshops

Thursday

Thursday Workshops, 4-5:15 PM

Church of the Wilderness is a mission development of young families (and a couple of beloved older adults!) led by Meghan Richter in North Durham. For the last year, this community has been walking through the Apostle's Creed phrase by phrase, and we have been growing in faith and finding hope for the world along the way. Catechesis may seem like an unlikely starting place for a group of young families and a community of people who aren't sure if they can believe in God at all (or again), but we have found the power it has to locate ourselves in a larger story, to re-shape our imaginations for faith, and to give us a shared language for wondering about who God is and what God is up to in the world. In this workshop, we will share more about Church of the Wilderness' gatherings, our process of catechesis, and how you might adapt this for your faith community, small group, or youth and family ministry program.

Presented by Pastor Meghan Richter
Pastor Meghan lives in Durham with her husband, two kids, a flock of chickens, and a 7lb dog who rules the roost. She is the mission developer at Church of the Wilderness, a small and growing community of people who are learning to trust God together. Her work at Church of the Wilderness has taught her that it is important to name what's wrong with the world and it is just as important to name what's right with it. She is learning how to live with double vision: with eyes that see the deep brokenness of the world and with eyes that see all the ways God is still at work healing the world.

Join Navy Chaplain Commander Connelly to explore how your congregation can best accompany military members and their families. You will discover the real concerns and worries of active duty members, how congregations can best support service members at different points in their service, and how to walk with families experiencing a variety of emotions, especially around times of deployment.

Presented by Pastor John Connelly
Chaplain John Connolly enlisted in the US Navy during high school and, following his service, he left his career as an engineer to attend Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. While attending seminary he was commissioned through the Chaplain Candidate Program Officer program in preparation for returning to the Navy as a chaplain. He has served as a chaplain in both the Marines and Navy including assignments on ships and at both the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, and the Naval Hospital in Jacksonville. He currently serves in the Navy Warfare Development Center in Norfolk, VA.

Each new generation faces scrutiny as prior generations seek to understand the mindset and perspectives of young people as they emerge into adulthood. Understanding is not enough. In this workshop, we will unpack research and surveys to better understand the mindsets of this generation as well as explore how we might make room within our church expressions for the voices and leadership of Gen Z youth and young adults.

Presented by Aaron Shoopa
Aaron has worked with the ELCA since October of 2023, after 15+ years of experience in youth and young adult ministry. His primary responsibility is to resource and connect those in synods and congregations who are tasked with nurturing the faith of our youth. Aaron finds joy in giving witness to the stories of hope, sorrow, and innovation that youth leaders experience as they set out to make disciples of young people. Aaron and his wife, Megan, keep busy raising their energetic four-year-old son and twin babies. On the rare moments when time allows, Aaron enjoys hiking, kayaking, cooking, writing, and trying to grow just about anything in the garden.

In the demanding role of a pastor, the weight of responsibilities and the constant care for others can lead to burnout and exhaustion. Learn a refreshing perspective on self-care and support specifically tailored for pastors. How coaching can help them cultivate resilience, manage stress, and maintain a healthy work/life balance. Discover why congregational support for coaching can be transformational for your pastors.

Presented by Heidi Kleine
Heidi Kleine is the Disciple Engagement Coordinator at Christ the King, Cary, where she has been on staff for 15 years. She is also a Professional Leadership Coach and serves as the synod's Coach Coordinator. She has specialty training in Discipleship, Mission Development, Congregational Vitality, and Healthy Congregations. She has raised four amazing young women and is "Gma" to her first grandchild.

Everyone has felt the effects of the pandemic and some would say no one has felt it more than congregations. This workshop will give participants information they can take back to their congregations for further conversation. It will also include a time for questions specific to each local context. Topics included are budgeting, stewardship, and best practices to name a few. Come find out more about how to respond in challenging times and how to set your financial plan up for the future.

Presented by Michael DeNise
Michael DeNise is the Director of Finance and Administration at the synod office. He has been with the synod office since 2016. Before working for the synod, Michael worked with the YMCA in different capacities.

Our estate plan, in whatever state it may be, WILL be a statement of our faith story. Why not make it an exclamation mark?! In this workshop, ELCA Regional Gift Planner Stephanie Burke will lead us through ways your generosity will not only gift loved ones but also support and sustain your favorite ministries on this side of heaven. We’ll discuss ways to maximize your assets through planned giving so your generosity accomplishes more than you might have imagined, ensuring the continuation of God's work in the world for years to come.

Presented by Stephanie Burke
As a resource from this church, Stephanie Burke, ELCA Regional Gift Planner for the Carolinas, is available to help you explore how you can make a difference in the lives of your loved ones and in ministries you care about, both now and in the future. Having assisted in over 27 million in planned gifts for ministry and non-profits since 2020, she is available to aid in your estate and legacy planning while always considering your current needs as well as your goals for your loved ones. One-on-one appointments, whether in person or virtual, will answer all your personal questions—confidentially—and at absolutely no obligation. It is her ministry to be of service.

This session will empower church leaders—regardless of previous music training, experience, or resources—to lead singing in a variety of contexts. Attend the session to learn new song-leading skills and/or come to spend some time singing with other Gathering attendees.

Presented by Dr. Ryan Luhrs
Dr. Ryan Luhrs is Director of Choral Activities, Associate Professor of Music, and Sacred Music Program Coordinator at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, NC. He directs the A Cappella Choir and College Singers and teaches music education and sacred music coursework. He also serves as artistic director for the Hickory Choral Society and as music director at St. Andrew’s, Hickory. He lives with his spouse, Sarah, and their three children in Hickory.

Our society and churches are reluctant to embrace the realities of grief and death. In fact, we are grief and death-avoidant. This workshop will enable participants to make their congregations safe for those facing loss, grief and/or death whether personally or on a congregational level.

Presented by the Rev. Karen Battle
Pastor Karen L. Battle is a retired pastor living in Charlotte who continues her ministry as a Reiki practitioner, spiritual director, and certified Grief and End-of-Life Coach.

Gen Z's top social media platforms in 2024 are YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok—in that order. In this hands-on workshop led by the synod communications team, you will learn practical and creative ways to use social media videos in your ministry. Bring your smartphone to practice new techniques, and you might even be featured in a synod Instagram Reel.
 
Presented by Angel Owens and Catherine Fink
Catherine Fink serves as the Director of Communications and Resources in the synod office. Angel Owens serves as Associate Director of Communications—Digital Media Strategist.

Friday Morning

Friday, 11 AM- 12:15 PM

Humor is therapeutic and can be powerfully healing! It is essential for well-being and wholeness. It connects us to each other and helps us develop a more positive perspective. If you would like a chance to smile, breathe, and laugh, this session is for you! We will engage in some simple breathing exercises and consider some strategies on how to live a more joyful life and ministry!

Pastor Adrienne Martin
Adrienne lives in Charlotte and serves as an associate pastor at Christ, Charlotte. She has always loved to laugh but discovered the therapeutic practice of humor when she attended the Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH) and participated in the Humor Academy in 2021-22. Experiencing the great benefits of humor, she hopes to share what she has learned. For Adrienne, laughter is like a snow day: a pure gift of God’s grace. Luckily, we can laugh more than it snows!

Where did you see God in this? How was community built or nourished? How were lives changed? These three questions help stories go beyond reporting; beyond the typical “who/what/where/when” that many of us learned in school. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to transform your same old promotion and reporting into engaging stories of ministry. Your communications can be an evangelism tool—a snapshot of your congregation’s ministry.

The Rev. Tim Brown
Pastor Tim is a pastor in the ELCA. After serving in the parish for over a decade, he began as one of the curators of the Anam Cara Community and as the ELCA Director for Stewardship. He's deeply steeped in his Celtic roots and finds beautiful symmetry between ancient spiritual practices across the world that focus on peace, grace, and love (you know, the things Jesus practiced). He blogs regularly at Reluctantxtian.com, has a weird obsession for learning about the saints of the church (both official andunofficial), and is a writer at heart (and, hopefully, by profession).

Join us as we share stories and explore the transformative and kingdom ministry happening through The Dwelling in Winston-Salem. Discover how this ministry is reshaping communities and hearts through radical and unbound welcome. We’ll l delve into practical strategies for your congregation to engage meaningfully with unhoused populations. Learn how to extend compassion, support, and resources in tangible and non-harmful ways. This workshop promises to equip you with the tools and insights needed to make a difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness in your own backyards. Don't miss this opportunity to be inspired and empowered to be agents of change in your community.

Presented by Pastor Emily Norris
Passionate about faith, service, relationship-building, learning, and love, Pastor Emily thrives on kindness, travel, advocacy and justice, hard work, community organizing, creative and effective communication, organizational systems, fun stationary, and Diet Coke. She adores her dogs and tolerates the cat. Currently balancing life as a mission developer, pastor, and full-time human. Actively trying to be her best self, all while loving her neighbor, Emily was ordained in May of 2020 and serves as the Lead Pastor and Developer of The Dwelling, Winston-Salem.

Join Lisa Kennedy and LR Professor Trula Baker to learn how you can better your ability to welcome the deaf and hard-of-hearing community into your congregation. This workshop will cover common mistakes to avoid when welcoming someone who is deaf, how to be more welcoming and accessible to people in the deaf community, gain resources to better your ministry, and learn some common ministry phrases in ASL (American Sign Language), such as, “The Lord be with you!” and “Thank you for joining us!”

Presented by Lisa Kennedy
Lisa Kennedy is the Deaf Service Specialist for the Morganton Regional Center with the Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DSDHH). A graduate of the North Carolina School for the Deaf, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Gallaudet University. Lisa has a passion for and is an ally to the Deaf and DeafBlind communities.

The Leadership Renewal Team is launching cohort groups as a source of inspiration, encouragement, provocation, and community for deacons and pastors. The hoped-for outcome for these groups will be (1) renewed leadership energy, (2) greater kingdom impact, and (3) a more sustainable joy-filled ministry. Come learn more about this new effort.

Presented by the NC Synod Leadership Renewal Team
The Leadership Renewal team is a new effort of the synod to provide support, encouragement, and resources for leaders as they minister boldly in their local communities.

Have you ever had dreams of making your space more welcoming and open? Were those dreams stunted by a load-bearing wall? Join the evangelism team to explore ways to be hospitable and welcoming even when your space feels like an ongoing barrier.

Presented by the NC Synod Evangelism Team
The evangelism team of the synod encourages congregations and leaders to minister through a lens of welcome and hospitality. The team aims to equip all of us to tell the good news of Jesus in our lives.

Join chaplains serving in locations throughout this synod to talk about chaplaincy ministry. You will explore what it means to be present with others in difficult times.

Presented by Specialized Pastoral Care Team Members
The Specialized Pastoral Care team is a team of chaplains serving in various settings (military, hospital, hospice, nursing homes, and more) that gather together for mutual support, encouragement, and ongoing education.

There is a lot of talk about trauma these days—but what exactly is trauma? How can Christian communities not only stop causing trauma but become places that support people in healing from trauma? In this conversation, the Rev. Elizabeth Rawlings will discuss the importance of churches and other Christian communities becoming trauma-informed spaces and share a framework for how communities can do this work.

Presented by Pastor Elizabeth Rawlings
Pastor Elizabeth (she/they) is the pastor and facilitator for Community of Spiritual Practice in Asheville, NC, where she creates spiritual community for people who have experienced religious/spiritual trauma. Pastor Rawlings began creating community for people who have experienced spiritual trauma as a campus pastor at the University of Washington, where once she and her co-pastor began talking about mental health, it drew in people who needed that conversation. To better serve their community, Pastor Rawlings began reading as much as she could about trauma, consulting with mental health workers, and taking classes in trauma work. Pastor Rawlings has been writing and presenting on trauma-informed work since 2016.

Description is coming!

Presented by the ADST Team

Come to discuss and learn more about the new social statement being developed to go before the 2025 churchwide assembly for approval. This document aims to be a faithful and considered statement of our beliefs and values around the role of the church in public and political life, written to guide and inspire discussion and reflection across the church. Spend time with the draft before the gathering if possible, and come prepared with your thoughts and questions. Let us reflect together on the issues of civic life and faith and share our feedback with the team behind the latest draft.

Presented by Deacon Dr. Mindy Makant
Dr. Mindy Makant is associate professor of religious studies and director of the Youth and Family Ministry Program at Lenoir-Rhyne University. She previously held the roles of director of the Living Well Center for Vocation and Purpose and dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Makant is an ordained deacon in the ELCA and a certified spiritual director. She currently serves on the ELCA’s Task Force on the Social Statement on Church, Government, and Civic Participation. She chairs the synod’s task force responsible for the synod’s relationship with its companion church in Costa Rica.

Friday Afternoon

Friday, 2-3:15 PM—Spiritual Nourishment

Participants will engage in a slow, quiet, and thoughtful encounter with Scripture. Reading and listening with the intention of opening ourselves fully to the wonder and astonishment of the workings of the Holy Spirit. The Rule of St. Benedict describes Lectio Divina as an opportunity to “listen with the ear of your heart.”

Presented by Deacon Deb Johnson
After retiring from the USAF in 1994, Deacon Deb began her journey as a social worker; working with adult parolees, the homeless, victims of domestic violence, and both adult and child victims of sexual assault. Her first call as a deacon was as the Executive Director of the Children's Advocacy Center in Catawba County. She then served for two years as the pastor for Agape, Gastonia, a mission congregation, and currently serves part-time at Unity, Hickory. She loves camping and hiking with her yellow lab, Helen.

Centering Prayer is a form of contemplative prayer in which practitioners consent to sit in silence for 20 minutes twice a day. Based on Psalm 46:10 (“Be still, and know that I am God!”) and Matthew 6:6 (“But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who sees in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”), it builds on our desire and longing to be in a deeper relationship with God. This workshop will introduce you to this practice and provide an opportunity for you to experience it.

Presented by Pastor Dick Little & Pastor Ward Misenheimer
Pastor Ward serves the congregation of Advent, Charlotte, and Pastor Dick Little (who, at one time, also served Advent) is happily and busily retired in Matthews.

Join the Synod Gathering Worship Team to sing your favorite hymns from the ELW—aka the Cranberry Hymnal! This year, the first Lutheran hymnal will celebrate its 500th anniversary. Join us for a fun sing-a-long of hymns together in Grace Chapel to celebrate this milestone.

Led by the Synod Gathering Worship Team
The Synod Gathering Worship Team includes leaders from across the synod who have planned all the worship experiences for our Gathering including devotional times.

Reviewing liturgical art used in ELCA printed materials, Pastor Carrie will guide those gathered through simple design concepts and drawing techniques within the artwork. Then, each attendee will select a specific Gospel from Mark assigned in the Liturgical Year “B.” We’ll focus on the key characters, plot line, and dig for deeper meaning. As drawings unfold, hopefully, we’ll be surprised by walking in on Jesus as though we have entered the back door! Whether you constantly doodle or draw stick figures, no talent is required! Pastor Carrie will strive to make this a whimsical and spiritual experience, giving you a gift that will open the gospel in ways you never imagined. Ultimately, as a moth is drawn to the flame, your heart will be drawn to dwelling with Jesus! Supplies will be provided. Space will be limited.

Presented by Pastor Carrie Bishop
Pastor Carrie was ordained in 2007 and has been serving in Rowan and Cabarrus counties ever since! Currently, she is serving as a supply pastor at the newly formed PALM Parish. But before all that, Carrie taught art for 20 years in both public schools and universities. Before that, Carrie was a freelance watercolorist for 10 years and taught guided workshops on location. In every setting, Carrie meets her students where they are and encourages them to step forward on their creative path. In teaching or preaching, Carrie is happiest in the “Thin Space”—a place where heaven and earth kiss and surely the presence of the Lord is there!

In this session of spiritual nourishment, we will look at how Jesus feeds those at the margins and those at the center at the same time with His word. It's the same multigrain bread but we each taste a different grain depending on what our body craves. The message of the Gospel is countercultural, even subversive, depending on where the diner sits. When we look at the Word with different lenses, we'll see and taste its richness and feel God's deep, radical love for us, no matter where we sit.

Presented by Pastor Terrance Jacob
Pastor Terrance is a native of South Africa where he worked with the Council of Churches as a church-based community activist. He was ordained in 1992 earning a degree from Univ. of Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal). In addition to serving ELCA congregations in Minnesota and Florida, he served as Director for Evangelical Mission (DEM) for the Sierra Pacific Synod (California) and then as DEM for the Northeastern Ohio Synod. He is currently the pastor of Church of the Abiding Savior, Lutheran, in Durham. Pastor Terrance is a certified grief coach.

Come and explore the ancient practice of biblical storytelling, experience a story, and even try telling one yourself.

Presented by Pastor Jason Chesnut
Pastor Jason is a freelance filmmaker, itinerant pastor, and digital preacher working on the edges of institutional Christianity. His films are committed to a new kind of storytelling (ANKOSfilms.com) and his work extends into movements for justice and liberation. A native of Texas, Jason graduated from Texas Lutheran University and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He lives as close as possible to mountains and, in an alternate universe, he would be a wildlife photographer.

Join us for a guided meditation as you walk Lenoir-Rhyne's labyrinth. You will explore ways to continue this meditative practice in your home context. The labyrinth is a way to quiet the mind, recover a balance in life, encourage meditation, insight, self-reflection, stress reduction, and discover innovation and celebration. The practice of labyrinth walking integrates the body with the mind and the mind with the spirit.

Led by Beth & Avery Cook
Beth began walking the labyrinth shortly after she and her daughter Avery joined Morning Star, Matthews about 5 years ago. She was asked to join the labyrinth team about a year later and has been walking and helping to guide labyrinth walks since that time. Avery, now 17, is also a member of the labyrinth team and has been involved in guided labyrinth walks for several years. They are both excited to share the labyrinth with others.

Saturday

Saturday, 9-11 AM—Intensives

Join small and scrappy congregations to talk about new moves of God in their midst. Celebrate the ways you are already serving and deeply impacting your community. Explore ways to listen and dig in more deeply connecting as the pastor, the place to turn, the connection point for your whole community.

Presented by Pastor Stacey Spence-Baldwin.

Adults traveling to New Orleans: get up-to-the-minute details of our time together at the ELCA Youth Gathering this summer! The Youth Gathering is an event like no other. Bring your questions and we’ll plan, dream, and get excited for July.

Led by Deacon Tammy Jones West
Deacon Tammy, the 2024 ELCA Youth Gathering Director, served 27 years on staff in the NC Synod and joined the Gathering as Director in 2022. Before becoming director, she had served on various Gathering teams over many cycles. She lives in Monroe with her cat, Pounce, in a cul-de-sac with two of her three sisters as neighbors. She has one son, Robert, and a daughter-in-law, Maura, who live in Berlin.

Come on your own or as part of a lay communion visitation team to explore the gift of holy communion. Learn practical ways to share the meal with homebound members or those in special circumstances. Receive resources for prayers and liturgies, and explore how to partner with your pastor in this visitation work.

Presented by Pastor Jennifer Ginn
Pastor Jennifer is a retired Lutheran pastor who writes for Gather magazine, The Word in Season, and Christ in Our Home. As a coach for the NC Synod and the ELCA, she enjoys working with pastoral and lay leaders. Her spiritual practices include telling scripture stories by heart and deepening her prayer life through Centering Prayer. She currently serves on the NC Synod Council and attends Holly Grove, Lexington.

All youth are invited to join Pastor Cassie and Aaron Shoppa, the ELCA's Director of Youth Ministries! Aaron will share what youth ministry is like across the ELCA and get feedback from our synod's youth about the church and the world! Pastor Cassie will lead team-building exercises to prepare the youth for the afternoon of service and heading to New Orleans for the Youth Gathering this summer. We can’t wait to see you for this joy-filled morning of learning and relationship-building.

Led by Aaron Shoppa & Pastor Cassie Overcash
Originally from New Jersey, Pastor Cassie has been part of the NC Synod since 2003. She grew up attending Abiding Presence, Fuquay-Varina, was an active member of the LYO Board, and served as a camp counselor at Agapé+Kure Beach Ministries. She is currently an assistant to the bishop, previously serving as pastor at Grace, Thomasville. Outside of work, you can find Pastor Cassie hosting game nights, throwing pottery, and traveling with her family.

As ELCA Director of Youth Ministries, Aaron works to resource and connect those in synods and congregations who nurture the faith of youth. Aaron finds joy in giving witness to the stories of hope, sorrow, and innovation that youth leaders experience as they set out to make disciples of young people. Outside of this work, Aaron and his wife, Megan, keep busy raising their energetic four-year-old son and twin babies. On the rare moments when time allows, Aaron enjoys hiking, kayaking, cooking, writing, and trying to grow just about anything in the garden.

Please join us and our guest speakers from Lutheran Services Carolinas, including refugees, Circle of Welcome volunteers, LSC leadership, and rostered ministers who will share their experience working with the LSC New Americans Program through refugee resettlement. There will be a panel discussion, Q&A, devotional time, and opportunity for community conversation. Bring questions and come prepared to learn how the immigration system works, who is trying to come to the U.S. and why, and how our churches might navigate a potentially controversial issue and respond to Jesus' call to "welcome the stranger."

Facilitated by Lutheran Services Carolinas (LSC) President Ted Goins, along with volunteers and clients with the LSC/New Americans Program; the NC Synod Immigration and Refugee Ministry Team, led by chairperson David Charters; and Pastor Michael Dickson, NC Synod Coordinator for Social Justice & Advocacy Ministries.
The LSC New Americans Program supports refugees and immigrants across the Carolinas who have been forced to flee their home countries due to danger, war, or persecution. LSC in North Carolina helps these new Americans rebuild their lives in a new setting with offices in Raleigh, Salisbury, and Asheville. The NC Synod Immigration and Refugee Ministry Team works to educate congregations on the human impacts of the immigration system and engage them in caring for this vulnerable population. The Team has supported congregations in fulfilling the Bishop's Challenge, including distributing grant funding for immigration-related projects. Collectively, the Team has deep experience working with refugees and immigrants at the border, in detention centers, and resettling across North Carolina.

Come on your own or bring a team from your congregation to learn more about the need for a congregational disaster preparedness plan. We will work through the steps of developing a unique plan that fits your congregation and explore the theology of disaster response—where and how we see God at work even in the midst of disasters.

Presented by Pastors Ray & Ruth Ann Sipe
After 15 years of parish ministry, we have returned to disaster ministry which we first experienced during seminary, especially our internship year with Lutheran Disaster Response on the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. Now working as co-directors of Lutheran Disaster Response Carolinas, our primary work is on disaster preparedness and developing a network of individuals and congregations prepared to respond to disaster in their communities and beyond.

Last year, part of a resolution passed at the 2023 NC Synod Assembly strongly encouraged rostered ministers, congregations, campus ministries, and synodically authorized worshipping communities to study the ELCA Social Statement on Abortion and Bishop Easton's June 24, 2022 message on the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization (2022), and to engage in dialog around this topic. That is easier said than done. Come learn best practices and access resources for facilitating conversations in your context.

Presented by Heidi Kleine & MaryJane Selgrade
Heidi Kleine, Disciple Engagement Coordinator, and MaryJane Selgrade, Chair of Advocacy, of Christ the King (CTK), Cary, were part of a group that facilitated a series of conversations on the topic of reproductive health in their congregation during the summer of 2022. In this workshop, they will share their learnings to equip you. MaryJane has been a member of CTK, Cary for 42 years and is currently chair of the Social Ministry, Evangelism, and Advocacy board. She has a Ph.D. in Medical Microbiology and worked as a research scientist for the Environmental Protection Agency for 32 years. She has long been an advocate for homeless families and affordable housing, as well as for reproductive rights. Following the Dobbs decision she initiated the abortion forum at CTK. She has four adult children and nine grandchildren. Her wish is that, like them, every child could grow up in a safe, financially secure environment.

In addition to being on staff at CTK, Heidi is also a Professional Leadership Coach and serves as the synod's coach coordinator. She has specialty training in Discipleship, Mission Development, Congregational Vitality, and Healthy Congregations. She has raised four amazing young women and is "Gma" to her first grandchild.

Fellowship, Service & Generosity

Fellowship & Fun

WE ARE MORE IN COMMUNITY.

This year's schedule includes intentional time for relationship-building. Each day of Synod Gathering includes time to gather over meals and catch up with friends between scheduled programs.

Synod Block Party—Thursday at 6 PM
Practice your underhand toss—we are hosting a synod conference Corn Hole Tournament! Visit tables from ministry partners who are encouraged to put their own spin on outdoor games. Enjoy dinner prepared by The Dwelling, our synod's ministry with those experiencing homelessness in Winston-Salem. 
This is going to be fun, y'all. 

Free Time (Your Choice)—Friday at 7:30 PM
Catch up with old friends and colleagues, meet with affinity groups, or spend the time in conversation with a new friend!

Beignets & Blessings— Saturday at 3:15 PM
We will finish our time together, eating beignets and praying over the youth headed to the ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans this summer. 

Service Project

WE ARE MORE IN SERVICE

On Saturday at 1 p.m., we will gather together in the Lenoir-Rhyne University gym to pack 30,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger.

Just as we belong to one body in Christ, we belong to each other. Together in Christ, we can Rise Against Hunger in our communities and in our world.

LEARN MORE ABOUT RISE AGAINST HUNGER.

Offering

WE ARE MORE IN OUR GENEROSITY

As we join in worship at the Gathering, our offerings are a reminder that we are more when we are honoring, celebrating and investing in current and emerging leaders in our church.

Campus Ministries

Opening worship offering will support the 14 campus ministries in the NC Synod.

Campus ministries provide students with more through Christ-centered community! More support, encouragement, and opportunities for discernment and conversation.

Camps

Our Friday evening Vesper service offering will be split between the three NC Synod camping ministries: Lutheridge, Lutherock, and Agape.

We are more abundantly blessed by rostered leaders who discern calls and enter the candidacy process because of the ways camps build leaders for the Church.

Youth

Saturday's closing worship is led by youth and youth ministry professionals. The offering on Saturday will go to support the NC Synod Children, Youth & Family ministry.

We are more when we recognize that the children and youth in our congregations are not the Church of the future but the Church right now. We are more because of dedicated CYF professionals. These funds will help them to go on retreats, attend educational courses, and help our children and youth across the synod continue to have opportunities for leadership and to build relationships with Lutheran Youth across the state.

Affinity Meals

WE ARE MORE in our connection. Affinity groups are opportunities to connect with folks in the synod who share similar roles, contexts, and/or interests over a meal. Find out below if there is an affinity meal that is right for you!

Thursday Lunch

Thursday, May 30, 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

Rural Ministry
Join pastors, deacons, and SAMs from across the synod who serve in rural ministry to collaborate, dream, and encourage each other in ministry. Synod leaders hope this might be an ongoing affinity group that can explore particular topics related to rural ministry.

New to the Synod
Did you just move to the North Carolina Synod in the last year to serve as a pastor or a deacon? Come connect with other colleagues who are new to the synod!

Advanced Lay Ministry
Are you a SAM or Lay Preacher? Come enjoy lunch and get to know colleagues serving alongside you in this role. The ALM team will be present for questions as well.

Friday Breakfast

Friday, May 31, 8-9 a.m.

LTSS/LRU Alumni Breakfast
Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary and Lenoir-Rhyne University Alumni are invited to join LTSS and LRU leaders to hear about the move of the seminary to the Hickory campus including time for questions.

Friday Lunch

Friday, May 31, 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Church Administrators
Let’s face it—our church administrators make it happen. Pastors often share how much they rely on these saints. Administrators will have the opportunity to connect, share best practices and tools of the trade, and collaborate on solutions to common challenges. 

Disaster Network
Already involved or interested in joining the LDR Carolinas Disaster Network? This lunch is for those who have joined online meetings, helped with our trailer updates, and those who wish to know more. Hear an update on the trailer (which will be on-site) and possible upcoming projects.

First Call Theological Education
Join the first-call pastors and deacons engaged in First Call Theological Education for lunch, fellowship, and a time of prayer together.

 

Synod Gathering event (1000 x 563 px)
Day
Hour
Minute
Second