Vice President Haywood offers concluding remarks
Newly re-elected Vice President Diana Haywood started her remarks saying, “As I say every year, North Carolina is the place to be.” She jokingly declared that she was initially both encouraged and still surprised by the assembly still voting for her until she realized she was the only name on the ballot.
The laughter from the assembly transitioned to words of agreement as Haywood highlighted the testimonies, outcomes, and opportunities provided. She stated the NC Synod is blessed with many leaders—lay, rostered, serving in institutions, congregations, agencies and more. She pointed out that “their cooperation in ministry is phenomenal.” She named specifically that first-time synod assembly director Michael DeNise did a great job as the assembly completed all business. She also thanked our special guests including the ELCA churchwide representative, the Rev. Ruben Duran, who was specifically requested because he is the director of congregational vitality for the ELCA.
Vice President Haywood spoke to the theme of Congregational Vitality. She said that though we were not clear when we left home what that meant, we were now. She goaded the assembly in saying the definition with her:
Vital congregations are communities of Jesus that have life-changing relationships with God, each other and the world.
Next, Haywood quoted the phrase Bishop Smith used to provide the bottom line of congregational vitality which was, “It’s all about relationships.” In fact, she had the assembly use it as a refrain as she highlighted all of the wonderful things reported during the weekend including opportunities for learning, lay and rostered ministers serving in every area of church life and the community, the cooperation between church and community, the completion of all business, the Lifeline Fund that provides a financial bridge to free pastors from debt to focus on mission, numerous social ministry services accomplished, responding to emergencies in 37 countries, congregations working together, congregations encouraged to be innovative, litanies on gun violence, celebrating women in ministry, and more. After each highlight the assembly enthusiastically repeated, “It’s all about relationships.”
She concluded with this quote from Dr. King, “We must live together as brothers or perish as fools.” The assembly responded positively to her remarks with a standing ovation.
Story: Pastor CeCee Mills serves the synod as associate director for evangelical mission.
Photo: Sage Rufsvold is a graduate student in the Communication Studies program at UNC Greensboro.