Gathering, opening, worshipping, seeing
Even in its first moments, the Spring Session of the Metro D.C. Synod Assembly (the Assembly) became an action-oriented assembly – worshipping, singing, praying, gathering, walking – and seeing under the theme “To See Ourselves as Others Do.”
Voting members, visitors and guests sat down at the meeting “table” and began the Assembly by singing the hymn “As We Gather at the Table.” After the reading of the Gospel, they stood and sang about walking with Jesus with the hymn “Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus.” Through other hymns, prayers and litanies, the Assembly was officially opened by Bishop Richard Graham.
Those assembled then introduced themselves to their neighbors. The registrar (the Rev. Dr. Maggie Rourk, secretary) reported that present were 78 rostered leaders, nine visitors and 132 voting members.
John Handley gave the report of the treasurer for fiscal year 2010. For that period, we as a synod financially “treaded water,” he noted. Income fell slightly short of expenses, but expenses were cut to match, and some planned expenditures were not made. He noted congregations’ generosity for domestic and international disaster response to and through the ELCA and to the ELCA World Hunger Appeal. According to Handley, many congregations have moved to giving a percentage of their income for mission support to the synod, and this an acceptable trend. The synod office will be moving at the end of the year and is looking for new office space, and this is reflected in the 2012 budget.
The first part of this plenary session included other “people business” – the report of the nominating committee and introduction of synod staff and hearing greetings from ecumenical guests. These included:
- The Rev. John W. Crossin, Washington Theological Consortium, who noted his connections to Lutherans, especially through the ELCA’s seminary in Gettysburg.
- The Rev. Jonathan Barton, Virginia Council of Churches, noted that Lutherans are seen not for their divisions, which we may know ourselves by, but as “people who are bringing together the body of Christ.” He noted the ELCA’s leadership in developing full communion relationships.
- The Rev. David Bennett of the Moravian Church, Northern Province, noted the blessings his church has received from its full communion relationship with the ELCA. “We’re grateful for you,” he said, noting that his community is enriched.
- Fr. Avelino Gonzales, Director of the Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, noted that getting into the world of ecumenism and having dialogue with Lutherans has been “enlightening and enriching” for him.
- The Rev. David Maack, Southeastern District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), 3rd Vice President, spoke briefly about the joint ministries LCMS has with the ELCA – Lutheran Services in America, in particular. Pr. Maack is also the Executrive Director of Lutheran Mission Society of Baltimore.
- The Rt. Rev. David C. Jones, Bishop Suffragan, Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, brought greetings and introduced a new Anglican bishop from Tanzania, Bishop Isaiah Chambala, who is visiting the Assembly with him.