I've been in this synod 4 years and this is the first assembly I've made it to. I had good excuses before, really. But was plumb out of them this year. I did have genuine excuses to miss Synod Assemblies but was not sorry. I've had bad experiences had synod assemblies. I've seen some very bad behavior. Especially from Word Alone folk. And I hate long speeches. I have had some fun. When I was in Madison Wisconsin, I would play poker with the guys. In East Central Wisconsin there were a lot of good women clergy I hung out with. And in Western Iowa I would go out for beer with the Buffalo Synod - so named for the Sioux City and others clergy who would meet at the bar "Buffalo Alices". We were such regulars the owner had a table for us with a sign that said "Reserved for Clergy"
I don't have a gang to hang out with in this synod. So I was dreading this assembly. Turns out the people in this synod are very well behaved. The speeches were short. I want to know how they did that! When I was on an assembly planning committee we would give the speakers a time limit and they just ignored us.
I really like and admire our Bishop Steven Ullestad. Very down to earth person, but also, good solid, Lutheran theologically minded person. He did an excellent job of running the assembly. We were always on time and yet everything got discussed and voted upon. Remarkable. I'm used to assemblies held in convention centers. This was at Luther College in an auditorium. I did not like that. For one thing, I like a table to spread out and drink my coffee. This made me feel more like I was in the audience for a performance rather than a participant. And if you are in the middle, it's just not very encouraging to have to crawl over people to get to the mike. I've been known to go to the mike a few times...but I refrained this year. I do wish I had said something but I thought of it later. You know how that is. But I'm sure the price difference between a convention center and a college makes this a no-brainer.
Mark Allen Powell. If you get a chance to listen to this guy or are looking for a speaker - He is excellent. I really have high standards. I want to be challenged intellectually but I don't like being lectured do and I have a short attention span. He had good solid material, but spoke down to earth in an engaging manner and he didn't talk for more than a half hour. He talked about how his North American, Russian and Tanzanian students all saw things in the story of the Prodigal Son that the others that really made me look forward to preaching on that story again!
The Bishops Report. Really! It was a very interesting and engaging talk. One of the best uses of power point behind him...it enhanced what he was saying but was not distracting. He started out quoting Dylan's "The Times They are A'Changing" and showed the video Did You Know on the progression of information technology.
This has been a difficult year for our synod. We had the Parkersburg Tornado. Then the ICE raid in Postville. Then flooding. We had to postpone our assembly last year because of the floods. This assembly seemed to be a celebration of survival and affirmation of the good work that was done despite the hardships. So even though I didn't get to drink beer and play poker it was a pretty good experience.
More about resolutions in other posts.