This year’s Synod Assembly was held June 6-7 at Messiah College. This year, Grace Lutheran was represented by Pastor Tina, Cora Sue Herbst, and Jack Warntz. There was a different focus to Synod Assembly this year, rather than spending the majority of the time on business and administration, there was a clear focus on service, worship, and fellowship. Activities kicked off unofficially on Thursday the 5th of June, with the first annual Loaves and Fishes food packing event. Thousands of volunteers worked in three hour shifts, across twelve hours, to pack meals for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. By the end of the day, our synod had packed over 300,000 meals that would be distributed to people right in our own neighborhoods. It was with this event in mind that the assembly officially kicked off Friday morning with an intense focus on feeding the hungry in our midst.
The keynote speaker this year was Rev. Dan Rift, Director of ELCA World Hunger. He spoke to us of the vast and various ways that the ELCA is seeking to address hunger in the world, as well as about coordinated efforts between World Hunger and Lutheran Disaster Response, to meet the needs of as many people as possible. We experienced three different Bible studies, led by Rev. Amy Reumann, Director of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in PA (LAMPA), who guided us from the Old Testament prophets all the way through to the end of Revelation, and highlighted God’s gracious desire to feed all of God’s children, and the role we, as disciples, are called to play in these efforts. The major worship event of the assembly was held Friday morning, which featured a service of ordination and consecration. Four new pastors were ordained into ministry in Lower Susquehanna, and one new deaconess was consecrated to the ministry of word and service. We celebrated the Eucharist together, and rejoiced with the newest members of Lower Susquehanna’s ministry.
The main order of business for the assembly included the election of five new members to Synod Council and one new member to the Gettysburg Seminary Board of Directors. Those who were elected were then installed at the close of assembly on Saturday morning. The largest piece of business taken up by the assembly was the passing of a recommendation from Synod Council regarding the 25th Anniversary Campaign for the ELCA in the Lower Susquehanna Synod. After much debate, prayer, and thought, the assembly passed this resolution 304 to 50. What this entails is our synod embarking on a joint campaign that will seek to support the ELCA in their 25th Anniversary Campaign, as well as holding a campaign within the Synod for ministries here. The total of the campaign will be six million dollars, across five years, beginning in January 2015. Here is a breakdown of where those funds will be going:
$2,750,000 to the ELCA 25th Anniversary Campaign initiatives as outlined by the 2013 Churchwide Assembly:
- $2,000,000 for the ELCA World Hunger Appeal
- $500,000 for the ELCA Malaria Campaign (completing our synod’s goal for this campaign)
- $250,000 for ELCA initiatives as designated by the 2013 Churchwide Assembly
$2,750,000 to support the following Lower Susquehanna Synod ministries:
- $1,000,000 for the Seeding the Future Campaign of the Lutheran Camping Corporation in order to complete this campaign
- $750,000 for the Bishop’s Congregational Mission Fund
- $100,000 for the Lutheran Disaster Response needs in Lower Susquehanna Synod
- $500,000 for hunger initiatives within the Lower Susquehanna Synod
- $250,000 for seminarian related support
- $150,000 for youth and young adult related ministries
Items 5 and 6 were initiatives that were decided upon by the gathered assembly. The Synod Council had left $400,000 open to designate towards areas that the Synod Assembly felt were important. We spent a great deal of time reflecting on additional areas that were in need in our synod, and came up with support for seminarians and more efforts towards youth and young adult related ministries. More information will be coming to congregations about participation in the campaign, but for now the most important piece of this was that it was not a decision come too lightly, but was only decided after a great deal of reflection, prayer, and conversation.
If you have any other questions regarding items discussed at Synod Assembly, or specific questions about the campaign outline, please contact Pastor Tina.
Lastly, thank you to Cora Sue and Jack for their dedicated service during the assembly; it is greatly appreciated.