Vessels Sharing Grace with the World

We are in the inspiration business, which God provides abundantly.

June 5, 2023 |

Image credit: Todd Godwin, member of St. John’s, Salisbury for the NC Synod

Continuing this year’s Synod Assembly theme of “Who Do You Say I Am,” Bishop Tim Smith’s report focused on the North Carolina Synod’s joys and challenges as we continue to respond to the call that Jesus issues us. The bishop’s message, while relaying the stark realities our congregations face, was filled with inspiration and hope.

The NC Synod recognizes that congregations have weathered many challenges as we worship with fewer in attendance, fewer volunteers, and less financial support. This does not mean that Christ isn’t present with us, but rather it means we must find new ways of doing ministry together. He also boldly encouraged us that Jesus can show up besides the morning worship time we are used to, or in the ministry of pastors and deacons who may differ from us in racial or gender backgrounds. Bishop Tim challenged us to learn to adapt and be creative as we find new ways of affording pastors and deacons, as we learn how to worship together, and as we learn how to recruit and equip lay leaders in our synod.

Synodical ministry, just like congregational ministry, has also been challenged. After two+ years of hard decisions and tasks, the NC Synod Council and synod staff have seen a lot of transition due to retirements, resignations, and changes. New synod staff and synod council members have emerged to help inspire us and equip us to do ministry together. Assistant to the Bishop, the Rev. Alfredo Oviedo, installed at the Friday night assembly worship service, will focus on providing opportunities for leadership growth with both our rostered ministers and laity. Leaders in the Children’s, Youth, and Family Ministry team will help equip our congregations and leaders to do ministry with young people across the synod. The synod is also committed to helping train lay leaders as opportunities expand for Advanced Lay Ministries, for Council Presidents, and for Treasurers.

Bishop Tim encouraged us that he has been inspired as our synod continues to lean into an identity in Christ. God is up to a new way of being that breathes new life into us as individuals, into our congregations, and into our synod ministry. With Christ as the hub of our wheel, our synod will continue to be Christ-Centered, be generous, be in relationship with others, and be in reconciliation. If we continue to keep the Gospel as our treasure, we will be able to find out our purpose as the people of Christ, to be the people that God is calling us to be.

A brief medical update was provided as Bishop Smith prepares to receive treatment for prostate cancer. He invites us to be patient and understanding as he will have limited availability in the upcoming months.

A video update on the Bishop’s Challenge was shared with the assembly. At last summer’s Synod Gathering, Bishop Tim offered a Bishop’s Challenge in which he encouraged 70% of our synod congregations to be actively engaged in resettlement ministry across the next 18 months. A year into this challenge, the bishop shared the new Bishop’s Challenge video and we learned about the beautiful and wonderful ways that congregations have responded in providing hospitality, housing, and resources to those with resettlement needs from Arden to Cary.

In his final remark, Bishop Smith shared with the assembly: “You are the synod.” The bishop and the bishop’s staff lead us, but we are the people that make up the North Carolina Synod. Bishop Smith reminded us that, as the hymn states, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” With Christ as our rock, we are a synod that continues to do ministry together, that focuses on our identity in Christ rooted in Scripture, becoming vessels used to share God’s grace with this world. As the synod, we are in the “inspiration business, which God provides abundantly.”


Deacon Susan Jackson, St. Paul's, Wilmington, for the NC Synod

Bishop Tim time

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