Reflective Saturday morning
The Saturday morning session began by announcing that 278 rostered and lay leaders and visitors are in attendance for this 2015 assembly. Results of elections were then announced, with leaders raised up by the assembly that will help shape the future of the Metro D.C. Synod and the ELCA.
This was followed by a presentation from Portico President, the Rev. Jeffrey Thiemann. He described the importance of caring for ourselves, our communities and our rostered leader, and explained how this is only possible with benefits for our leaders that support their wellness.
ADDITIONAL WORKSHOP FOR TIMELY CONVERSATION
The Rev. Amy Thomson Sevimli, Assistant to the Bishop, yielded a bit time to the Rev. Mike Wilker, who announced an additional lunchtime workshop that will continue conversations around race, racism, and the church. The announcement included an exhortation to support one another and help us overcome any fear that we may be experiencing as we talk and listen for the Holy Spirit in our midst.
Pastor Sevimli resumed her time to describe some of her work in the synod office, particularly her work around candidacy. She reported that there are 40 candidates in the process of moving toward rostered leadership in this synod, a goodly number for a synod our size.
Some of her other work focuses on mobility and pastoral vacancies. Pastor Sevimli described the success of intentional interims as bridges for congregations in leadership transitions. Something which is currently in an “experimental phase” is the consultancy process, especially useful when long time pastors are nearing retirement. Finally she described “huddles,” a model for discipleship and building disciples that has been important in her own life, and which she believes can be useful for the life of the church.
SECOND KEYNOTE ADDRESS
Keynote Speaker Dr. Sarah Hinlicky Wilson stepped to the lectern for the second time in two days, looking back on Lutheran history and looking forward to how we might commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 in light of these past events. Bishop Graham expanded on some ways that we might celebrate that anniversary in the Metro D.C. synod, and a group will be forming in the next month or so to begin forming a plan.
ACTION ON RESOLUTIONS/MEMORIALS
The Rev. Mark Edwards led another session of Reference and Counsel and two more resolutions were passed: 1) a resolution calling for a worldwide ecumenical council; and 2) a resolution encouraging congregations and members of this synod to welcome immigrants and advocate on their behalf.
REFLECTION ON SERVICE
More elections followed, before Lutheran World Relief President Daniel Speckard reminded us of work we all have a hand in through the synod’s support of LWR. His biblically based speech reminded us of our call to service, the joy that comes from serving others and the wonderful blessings and opportunities that come from being part of a truly global church that is connected to truly global organizations. He articulated a theology of abundance, expressing the belief that God has given each of us – ourselves, our congregations, our communities – enough. God has given us enough to take on more projects, enough to reach more people, and enough to share the hope of Jesus Christ with entire world. To that we say amen!
NEW CONGREGATION WELCOMED
After a few more elections, the session wrapped on another high note, with the synod officially receiving a new congregation into the fold: River of Grace Lutheran in Manassas, Virginia. The Rev. Connie Thompson, the mission developer of the congregation, spoke with passion about the multitude of gifts that she’s been blessed to see in her work there. A church that closed its doors and reopened in order to better serve its community and the world, River of Grace is a quintessential example of God bringing life from death, a core aspect of our faith. Pastor Thompson expressed thankfulness that we do not just look at the past and see what has been, but to look at the future and see what will be. Amen! And thanks be to God for new life!