Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What Else Happened at Synod Assembly?

The first day of Synod Assembly was by far the most exciting. We dove in right away on the first day, Thursday, voting on the Sexuality Statements. In retrospect, I'm glad we did. It was good to undertake that task while we were all still fresh (although I heard some grumbling about participants who couldn't arrive on time, and some of us did come from very far away, and we might have been fresher on Friday).

We undertook some other legislation, most notably a Carbon Emissions Reduction Recommendation. At one point, I thought we might spend more time arguing about the appropriate response to the environmental crisis than we did arguing about sex--what a sign of something that would be!

We heard from all sorts of groups, from the Bishop of the larger Lutheran churchwide body, to the folks who do outdoor ministries in Florida and beyond, to various mission groups. The fact that sticks in my brain is that one in 50 Americans is helped by Lutheran Services America. I worked for Lutheran Social Services in the D.C. area during the summer of 1985 and 1986--it changed my life in any number of ways, primarily by helping me to understand how lucky I was to be born into fortunate circumstances.

Most wonderful for me: the worship services. The first night we had a Festival Worship with a procession of banners from Florida churches (since I was the only member from my church to attend, I got to carry the banner--I haven't done that since adolescence). We had a healing service the second night. At the time the congregation was invited to come forward for a sign of God's love and healing, about 8 ministers took their places in chairs at the front. Each minister had an empty chair facing him or her. Each congregant sat in front of the pastor, and the pastor asked, "Is there anything special that we should be praying for you?" Some people sat for a long time. Some people wept. I found it very powerful, even though my woes tend to be minor in comparison. When the minister asked me that question, I replied, "My job leaves me both stressed and bored." That's not as serious as cancer or other health issues. It's survivable in a way that betrayal by loved ones might not be. For the sending service, we had a Gospel service, complete with a choir and a band (and they were GOOD, unlike so many Lutheran church singing groups that come with a band).

Our Synod does business in alternating years; this year was one of those years. Next year, the Synod focuses on workshops and other kinds of experiences that give participants tools to take back to their congregations. The business meetings are held across a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, which is why so many people in my congregation couldn't go. Next year the Assembly will be held across a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so we may have a surplus of people who want to go. Even if I can't attend next year, I'm profoundly grateful to have been able to attend this year.


Diana said...

This is great, it sounds really wonderful.

(Oh-- and my job leaves me both bored and stressed, too. It'll be easy to remember to pray for you.)

Kristin said...

Thanks! I'll pray for you in return--and for all people with work stress, people who are probably dismissed by others who say, "Just be grateful you have a job!"

Thanks for dropping by and for commenting!