DAY OF EQUIPPING & SYNOD ASSEMBLY HIGHLIGHTS
We had ambitious plans this year that included three days of events revolving around the theme, “Eradicating Hunger One Relationship at a Time.” Beginning with a Day of Equipping on Thursday, May 31, 2018, and ending with our June 2, 2018 Day of Feeding, the thirty-first annual Synod Assembly, complete with edification, worship, and the transaction of the legislative business of the Lower Susquehanna Synod is now in the books.
Here are some highlights from our events:
Bishop Dunlop shared how, over the last five years, we have been moving in a new direction to encourage our congregations to go deeper in their relationships with God, with one another, and with their communities. Bishop Dunlop also reported that as the ELCA, we are examining ‘Future Directions 2025,’ which has identified two key areas: congregational vitality and leadership development. These are two key missional areas we have been focusing on.
Through our Assembly renewal video, we learned how Lower Susquehanna Synod is a place where mission is encouraged, supported, and nurtured. Currently, we are equipping 23 congregations through our R3 renewal initiative, re FORM + reNEW + reVISION. R3 uses an 18-month coaching process that equips congregations with energy, ideas, and tools needed to renew their sense of God’s mission.
Bishop Dunlop explained that R3 is only one way that we are engaging in renewal. Because we are committed to deepening our culture for God’s mission, we support other ministries that encourage renewal, such as: Vibrant Faith Institute, R3 generosity, and youth and family ministries.
Last fall, a synodical renewal team was established and we entered a “season of listening.” The Renewal team provided a report about their discoveries. We learned that growing and equipping leadership, supporting an experimental and changing culture, and mission (the Great Commission) and Service (the Great Commandment) are what matter most for our life together. We invited the assembly into deeper discernment about our future missional priority areas.
As another example of renewal, Deacon Chandler Carriker, Associate Director for Outreach and Engagement for Lutheran World Relief, served as our morning session keynote speaker and spoke about the renewal of LWR Farmers Market Coffee.
Mikka McCracken, World Hunger Director for Planning and Engagement for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, was the churchwide representative to the assembly. Representing Presiding Bishop Eaton, Mikka offered a keynote address and Bible study on Thursday afternoon, and presented the Churchwide Report on Friday. Mikka challenged us to consider taking our witness just one step further… “In the Lower Susquehanna Synod of the ELCA we feed the hungry as we have been fed by Christ… and we, in the communities where our congregations are present, have eradicated hunger as the first, hunger-free geographical synod of the ELCA.”
During assembly, we adopted continuing resolution S9.04. r.A.18., the Preliminary Identification Process Leading to the Election of a Bishop. The following resolutions were passed: Resolution of Gratitude for the Rev. Thomas E. McKee (SA18.06.10) and Resolution on Ending Homelessness (SA18.06.11). We adopted our Fiscal Year 2019 budget of 2,685,000 (SA18.06.13). All actions taken during assembly will be available as soon as the draft minutes are finalized.
We give thanks for our new pastors and deacon who were ordained and consecrated at worship on Friday evening, and for Norma Good who was recognized for her thirty years of volunteer service as Lutheran World Relief’s Volunteer Coordinator of Welfare Projects.
The day following our annual assembly was a Day of Feeding, which included a food packing event and missional encounters at other feeding sites on the territory of our synod. During our Food Packing Event at Messiah College, in partnership with Kids Against Hunger, we packed 150,390 meals. In addition, Orphan Grain Train packed 40,000 meals ahead of time, for a grand total of 190,390 meals sent to Haiti. 52 different churches participated and more than 465 volunteers participated.
In addition to our food packing event, members participated in missional encounters at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Wittel Farm, St. James, York, and Laundry Love. Also during this year’s assembly, we fed the hungry by collecting canned fruits, vegetables and pasta for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. We provided much-needed food for children who rely on free or reduced-priced breakfasts and lunches and the weekend Backpack Program.
Thank you for helping us eradicate hunger one relationship at a time.