Our bishop is too modest to say so, but he did keep saying that the future of this synod looks very bright and he's right.
I just got back from our Synod Assembly. I've been to many assemblies in many synods and usually I leave thinking "well that's three days of my life I will never get back" (except for the late night poker games in Wisconsin back in the late 80s but I digress) but I left today feeling good about the church, the ELCA and my synod.
No fighting, no wrangling, no scolding, no politcking, just uplifting and encouraging stories about the mission.
A touching and inspiring tribute by the Bishop for L. David Brown, the first Bishop of the Northeastern Iowa Synod. I thought our present bishop was the coolest bishop ever. No. Bishop Brown was the coolest bishop ever. In 1961 the Rev. Martin Luther King jr. was invited to speak at the ALC Youth Convention. Then some of the bigwigs of the church though it best to uninvite him. King uninvited himself, not wanting to be the cause of controversy. It was Brown who talked him into coming. He really was a remarkable man, you can read more information about him here: L. David Brown. But it was really touching hearing our bishop speak of him because he always gets emotional about these things.
A keynote by one of our own, Pastor Steve Brackett who spoke of how his ministry at St. Paul in Postville led up to them being prepared to respond to the crisis when ICE raided the town. I just think it was so cool to hear from one of our own, to remind us that WE are doing the work of God, here, in Podunk Iowa.
We also heard from the Rev. Twila Schock Director for Global Mission Support, ELCA, reminding us that yes, the ELCA is still doing Global Mission.
Our synod is one of the pilot synods to support the ELCA Malaria Campaign. We passed a resolution with a goal to raise $350,000 for the Malaria Campaign in three years. We had people dressed up like farm animals holding a mosquito net to take pledges. I mailed my pledge in last week. I didn't know we were going to have an opportunity to throw it in a net held by people dressed up like farm animals. I feel a little cheated. Kind of like on 9/11/01 when everyone was giving blood--I couldn't because I had given blood the week before. By the time the synod was over we had $60,000 in gifts and pledges.
We passed a new synod structure, pretty much doing away with committees that meet because it says in the by laws they need to meet. We are going to do business through networks and task forces. Not sure how it's going to work, but I think it's pretty exciting that we are blazing the way. And it passed with nary an argument. Which I credit to the synod doing good work on educating folks about it beforehand and the fact that people pretty much trust the synod. So different than the days in some synods (Ahem....WESTERN IOWA) where you couldn't even pass a budget without folks arguing and questioning nearly every line item.
And because we did not spend time arguing, we had time at the end to have people come to the mike and tell the stories of mission going on in their congregations.
There was nary a word about sex at this assembly. Because the sad hard truth is that pretty much anyone that is unhappy about the sexuality statement or ministry recommendations has left the synod. A lot of congregations and pastors have left. We are a smaller synod with less money to work with. But we are moving forward doing good stuff, instead of arguing about sex. It's a good thing.