April 2017: Synod Assembly: What is it?


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2017 Synod Assembly: What is it? 

By Rev. Emily Carson

The people of the synod gather yearly for a time of worship, Bible study, fellowship and the business of the church. This event is called the Southeastern Minnesota Synod Assembly. This year’s assembly will be held at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester on May 6-7. The theme is “Equipping congregations to follow Jesus into a changing world.” Additional event information and online registration is available at http://semnsynod.org/assembly2017.

There are three expressions that form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA): congregations, synods, and the churchwide organization. Churchwide refers the staff and elected officers who work at the Lutheran Center in Chicago and in other locations around the world serving as administrators, advisors, conveners, partners and resource people for the ELCA and its ministries. Each year a representative from the churchwide expression of the ELCA attends the synod assembly and brings updates from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and the wider church. The churchwide representative will be Rev. Stephen Bouman who serves as Executive Director for Domestic Mission, ELCA. The keynote speaker will be Rev. Gladys Moore. Rev. Moore serves as senior pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Summit, New Jersey. Prior to her tenure at St. John’s, she was the Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life and Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Mount Holyoke College. Rev. Moore has been pastor, an assistant to the bishop of the New Jersey Synod, and has served as a chaplain, preacher, and Bible study leader at many events. Rev. Dr. Eric Barreto, Weyerhaeuser Associate Professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, will serve as Bible study leader. His focus will be in the New Testament book of Acts.

The Saturday afternoon portion of assembly is a Learning Event. The Learning Event will feature a variety of workshops to equip participants with ideas, actions, techniques, and strategies to live into their faith. This portion of the gathering is included in the registration fee for general assembly voters. New this year: all are welcome to participate in the Learning Event! People who would like to attend the event on Saturday afternoon but aren’t voting members are invited to register online (http://semnsynod.org/assembly2017). The fee is $25 and includes two workshops, a forum with Bishop Delzer, and closing worship on Saturday.

This year’s assembly will take place on a Saturday-Sunday instead of the usual Friday-Saturday schedule. This is an experiment to see if the alternative schedule makes attendance more convenient. In that rostered ministers are required to attend, they will be at the assembly and unable to officiate that day in their local congregations. A variety of resources have been compiled to facilitate worship planning for congregations for Sunday, May 7. Available resources include: (1) an order of worship, (2) a printed version of Bishop Delzer’s sermon for that day that can be read by a church member, and (3) a video recorded version of Bishop Delzer’s sermon that can be used in your congregation. The Sunday morning worship service can be viewed live online for congregations able to stream from the Internet. Whether using the printed materials or viewing live online, Sunday, May 7 will be a special morning as people throughout the synod participate in worship together.

The Pre-Assembly report is an interactive document full of stories, photos, and engaging information about the synod’s ministries. To view this year’s report and discover more details about the assembly, please visit http://semnsynod.org/assembly2017. All preliminary printed and digital materials will be available by the afternoon of April 3.

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