On Friday the sun was shining, it wasn’t raining (finally!) and it was gorgeous outside. I spent the day inside on conference center in Minot with no windows, about 300 church folks and a lot to think about.
And I loved it.
You see, we’re an incredible church with a mission. A bunch of missions really. We’ve been called to take care of each other, and to be cared for.
This was the Synod Assembly for the Western North Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. That’s a mouthful, but that’s us, as wordy as we’re ever going to get.
We attended to some business, passing a budget and compensation guidelines for rostered leaders. We welcomed a congregation into our fold. We talked about boldly declaring all our congregations to be gun-free zones. Being polite Lutherans, we passed that as a kind-of-a suggestion. We disbursed the remaining $300,000 from Flood of Love to congregations in Minot, still working to rebuild lives after the flood of two years ago.
And we very boldly passed a resolution to begin a drive to raise $10 for each and every baptized member of our synod for the Mission Trust Fund. At 67,000 members, that’s potentially 2/3 of $1 million as seed money for all kinds of ministries in western North Dakota.
Amy Hansen was there with me, and I can tell you we both voted enthusiastically “yes.” At Heart River, we know first-hand how valuable it is to have the financial support of our fellow congregations. Look at what we’re doing with their help. I’m looking forward to seeing our congregation pay it forward during this campaign.
Obviously there are far more details than I’m telling you. I’ll let you read about it on the flyers we have. Pick one up at the back after the service.
We worshiped together. We did a lot of Bible study and learning in breakout sessions and in the large plenary sessions. I attended a session on listening… really LISTENING… to others to discover what our mission might be. I also attended a session on stewardship that will be very helpful. All of us learned about mission in the context of the Lutheran Confessions. Even the pastors and seminarians were ready for a pretty dry lecture. But it was great. As Lutherans, we need to know we are called to act. We are the body of Christ.
Our keynote speaker was talking about AIDS in South Africa when she said, “the body of Christ is HIV positive.” When our brothers and sisters are affected, we all are affected.
We did spend a lot of time in conversation, learning to listen. We studied Bible verses by having 1-on-1 conversations with “a relatively friendly-looking stranger,” as Bishop Narum put it. We asked each other what we saw in the Word as we studied it. Then we asked each other what we could PRAY for each other… and then we actually PRAYED IT. Having someone listen to you and being honored by their prayers… that’s a powerful experience. So is praying for someone else and opening yourself up to the mission that may fall out of it.
We are part of a great church. Each of us. We affect each other. We are Christ to each other. I am to you. And you… you… and you are to me. Thanks for sending me to represent Heart River at the Synod Assembly.