Saturday, May 8, 2010

My 19 year Old Self Weighs in on Synod Assembly

I have said before how I feel weird that Synod Assembly is held at a resort. Theoretically, we get a special deal on the lodging, but it's still $139 a night and most of us stay 2 nights. I can only imagine how much it costs the Synod to use the conference center, and all the high tech set up, with screens and computers and all the rest. And we pay a registration fee to Synod, which has a fund raising aspect too. There's a profit, I think, which goes back into the mission support work of the Synod.

And we haven't added in the cost of travel or food. We've left a huge carbon footprint on our landscape. I had this ecological side on my brain, as the oil spill loomed in the Gulf and threatened our state.

At a workshop on hunger, one man talked about sea level rise and how that would threaten Haiti. I said, "If there's enough sea level rise to threaten Haiti, most of Florida is in trouble too." Not that I don't think we shouldn't be concerned about island nations, but once the polar ice really starts to melt in earnest, Orlando will be oceanfront property.

I carry around with me my 19 year old self. Do we all have versions of this self? My 19 year old self was insufferable in many ways, and I'm grateful that my poor parents still speak to me, after all that my younger self put them through.

My 19 year old self has her hypocrisy detector on permanent high alert. My 19 year old self is self-righteous, and intolerant of the failings of others, particularly when it comes to spiritual failings. Synod Assembly offered her much to get wrought up over.

We declared that the offering for the opening Eucharist would be sent to Haiti. My inner 19 year old immediately started to do math. Let's see, over 500 participants. If we didn't have Synod Assembly, but instead sent the money we would have spent on Synod Assembly to Haiti, how much would we have raised?

A lot.

Now, I understand why it's good to gather in real time, in person. There are years, like last year, when serious work must be done: votes on legislation, decisions about finances in a year of economic collapse. Some years we elect a Bishop. This year just didn't seem as earth shatteringly important to me.

My grown up self reminds my inner 19 year old that it is good for pastors to get away, to socialize and strategize. It is good for church people to come together to experience worship together in a different context. It is good to have a working vacation that has some spiritual elements. It is good to be reminded of resources that we can bring to our home congregations.

My 19 year old self is not convinced.


Wayne said...

Absolutely on the money! My 61 year-old self agrees with your 19 year-old self. I've asked for years why we can't shorten the assembly to two days. The best I can do is stay across the street for half the cost, walk to the assembly, and use the savings to send kids to Luther Springs.


Kristin said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one! Most people just shoot me a bemused (or confused) look when I bring up these issues.

Thanks for stopping by!