Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Claimed, gathered, sent

May 29, 2012 08:52 AM
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Photos by Bob Williams

 

Click here to view a photo gallery of the assembly.

 

"Marked with the cross of Christ forever, we are claimed, gathered, and sent for the sake of the world." - Mission Statement

 

As the assembly gathered from May 17-19 in Tarrytown, the words claimed, gathered, and sent were weaved throughout our time together. Bishop Robert Rimbo led this year’s bible study drawing focus on the word claimed saying, "We are claimed by God in order that we might proclaim the mighty acts of God. We gather here in assembly and in all our assemblies as the church to bear witness to the gospel and to one another and to the whole world."

 

 The assembly was a turning-point where, as a church body, we asked questions about what the future of our congregations and our ministries might look like. As a synod we looked particularly at three things: the Strategic Plan, the Resolution on Congregational Viability Norms, and the Election of a Synodical Bishop. (The statement on Preaching and Sacramental Practices was postponed until the 2013 assembly.) You can read the Bishop’s Report to the Synod Assembly here.

 

REW_20120518_655-EditThe Strategic Plan was presented by the Executive Committee and Mr. Tom Massey from Daxko Consulting. They broke down the parts of the Strategic Plan: the Claimed Strategy, the Gathered Strategy, and the Sent Strategy, before delving into the plan enablers. Finally, the electronic voting machines were used to survey the assembly’s opinions about the plan. The assembly was asked what the most exciting strategy was and which might be the hardest to put into action. With amendments to wording, the 2013-2023 Strategic Plan was accepted by the assembly. Click here to learn more about the Strategic Plan.

 

REW_20120517_340-EditThe Resolution on Congregational Viability Norms presented their report beginning with drastic and surprising statistics. Half of our congregations worship with 75 people or less in attendance. A third have less than 50 in their weekly attendance. Even still, the norms presented do not focus on numbers, but larger and more comprehensive issues in the life of the church. Time was given for discussion in small groups about whether these norms were reasonable expectations and if they advance the church’s larger call to administering resources for building up the body of Christ. The action was passed to accept these norms. Read the report and learn more about the process behind these norms here (pages 12-22).

 

REW_20120517_311-EditThere were many causes for celebrating the ministry in our synod. The Child Youth and Family Ministry Committee honored Cross of Christ, Babylon’s ministry with the Heart of Ministry Award. The Distinguished Disciple Award was presented to Mr. Bob Buescher for his many years of service; he was honored by the assembly singing two of his favorite chorales. We spent time hearing from committees and partner organizations. Our time was enriched by video presentations about merging churches, being a leader, and "breaking glass" for seafarers and refugees. Click here to see those videos.

 

A resolution was passed as a synod to commit to fighting malaria and supporting the ELCA Malaria Campaign. The challenge is to raise a minimum of $3 per baptized member or a synodical goal of  $207, 375. The offering from our Friday night Festival Eucharist was designated towards this and Pr. Elise Brown, Advent, Manhattan presented Bishop Rimbo with a check for $21,019.05 to give a head start to this goal. Find resources on malaria and helping your congregation to support this goal here.

 

REW_20120518_849-EditA resolution was also passed regarding Living Into the Future Together (LIFT) that invites churches to work towards reviewing or redefining their unique mission plans. Click here to find resources on LIFT and creating mission statements.

 

During worship, we heard many voices share the word of God. Lessons were read in Spanish, German, and Arabic. Friday we were joined by the Rev. Dr. Rita M Root, Interim Conference Minister of the New York Conference, United Church of Christ and sharing the word with us was Rev. Lawrence Provenzano, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. During his sermon, Bishop Provenzano pledged to partner with our synod before starting any new missions or churches in the area. "Our mission must not look like the corporate world," he said, "But we must work, pray, and plan together for the work of God."

 

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