We are standing on holy ground
and I know there are angels all around.
Let us praise Jesus now.
We are standing in his presence on holy ground.
These were the lyrics to the theme music for this year’s Synod Assembly in South Bend, IN – “Spirit Filled. Spirit Sent.” Yes, there were the usual tedious tasks of listening to reports, talking about budgets, approving Compensation Guidelines, and amending amendments. But, the larger part of this years assembly was NOT dull – there were signs of the Spirit acting in our Synod, in our Companion Synods, and in our Sister Synods – we were, most certainly, on holy ground. Here are some of the highlights of this year’s assembly:
- Gafkjen was re-elected, overwhelmingly on the first ballot, to serve our synod as Bishop. He will serve another 6-year term.
- I, along with Pr. Teri Ditsler (Roots of Life, Noblesville) and Pr. Michael Vinson (Purdue Lutheran Campus Ministry) were elected to the Clergy At-Large positions on the Indiana-Kentucky Synod Council. We will each serve a 3-year term.
- We adopted resolutions:
- R-01-16: Support for Peacemaking with Justice in Israel and Palestine
- R-02-16: Resources to Help Indiana-Kentucky Synod Members to Share Friendship and the Gospel with Muslim Friends and Neighbors
- R-03-16: Repudiation on the Doctrine of Discovery
- R-04-16: Memorialize R-03-16 to the 2016 Churchwide Assembly for action
- Ephorus Rev. Dr. Willem Simarmata (Huria Kristen Batak Protestan – The Protestant Christian Batak Church, Indonesia) brought greetings and stories of how the Spirit is working in and through their church and members in Indonesia. They share pictures and their native music with us during our worship services.
- Izani Bruch (Iglesia Evangelica Luterana en Chile – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile) brought similar greetings and stories of how the Lutheran Church in Chile participated in standing against political oppression by strengthening women and families.
- Matthew Riegel (West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod) addressed the assembly, bringing greetings from our sister synod within the ELCA.
- Andre Gingerich Stoner (Director of Interchurch Relations and Holistic Witness of the Mennonite Church, USA), Kathryn Johnson (Director of ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-religious Relations), and Rev. J. Nelson Kraybill (President of the Mennonite World Conference) addressed the assembly, recounting the history of persecution of Anabaptists by Lutherans, telling of the years-long work of repentance and forgiveness that has been a priority between the two groups, and shared gifts and worshipped together, after centuries of internalized trauma and hatred.
Brothers and sisters, these are just the highlights from those days. There were countless other things that happened. There were hundreds gathered. The assembly hall in an ordinary convention center was transformed into holy ground for those few days.
The 2017 Synod Assembly will be held June 1-3 in Covington, KY (outside Cincinnati). As with each year, we will be seeking 1 male and 1 female delegate to attend and represent our congregation. Come and see what the holy ground will look and feel like next year!
Peace & Blessings,