Report on the 2018 ELCA Southeastern Synod Assembly: Now What?
Submitted by: Raymond and Georgia Phillippi, MLC Delegates
Georgia likes to say that we are Synod Junkies and that is very true as we get a kick out of attending the assemblies as guests if nothing else. This year we were privileged to be your voting members at the assembly and for that we thank you.
The theme of this year’s assembly was “Reformation 500 – Now What.” Besides the regular business of the assembly, we spent time discerning the future of the Southeastern Synod. Bishop Gordy has announced that he intends to retire when his term ends next year and so, like our congregation, the Synod will be looking for a new leader. We discussed at length the qualities of a bishop that would be important to the Synod going forth. These discussions will continue in our deaneries over the next year in preparation for the election of a new Bishop next year.
Some of the most significant events of any assembly are the worship services. There were three worship services at this assembly – one on each day. The first service would be very familiar to anyone who has attended our Wednesday night Table and Word. The service was traditional except that communion was served at the tables where the members were sitting. We each served communion to each other. While this was a common experience for the two of us, the others at the table found it to be very liberating. The second service on Saturday was a typical African American service and it was very lively and uplifting. The final service on Sunday was more traditional with a sermon provided by Rev. Karen Castillo of Guatemala. During Worship we also participated in an ordination. There is something very satisfying about worshiping with 300 other people from all around the Synod.
One of the most important parts of any assembly is the election of Synod Officers. This year in addition to the usual election of individuals to the Synod Council, we elected representatives to the Churchwide Assembly in 2019. The most important election, however, was the election of the Synod Vice President who is the lay leader of the Synod and Chairperson of the Synod Council. Four nominees were presented for this position and we are pleased to report that Mr. Imran Siddiqui was elected on the first ballet, which seldom happens on elections at this level. Mr. Siddiqui is a former Muslim, a lawyer, and a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Atlanta. He has also served on numerous congregational and synod committees and councils. He will be a good Vice President for the next 4 plus years.
Another interesting part of assemblies is the presentations of resolutions and memorials. These are usually drafted by congregations or Synod Committees and debated by the assembly. This year there were no resolutions or memorials presented, which went a long way toward keeping us on time.
Workshops are also an interesting way to learn what is going on within the church. This year Georgia attended the Mission Breakfast on Saturday morning where the topic of discussion was Iglesia Luterana Agustina De Guatemala, the synod’s mission in Guatemala. She came away impressed with the school for girls that was described by the Rev. Karen Castillo and her sister, Ms Beatric Castillo. In addition, we both attended a workshop on the “Draft Social Statement on Women and Justice.” You may remember the Sunday School presentation on this Social Statement led by Beth Ford during the initial study period in 2016. This Social Statement has come a long since that study period and will be presented to the Churchwide assembly in 2019 for adoption.
Finally, the assembly adopted a 2019 budget for the Synod. This 2019 budget is 1.5% higher than anticipated income for 2018. As a result, it is hoped that congregations of the Synod will increase their giving by 1.5% so that the necessary functions of the Synod can be accomplished.
This year as with other years, whether attending as a voting member or a guest, we had a wonderful time at the Synod Assembly. Thank-you for allowing us to be your voting members this year and we would encourage others in the congregation to attend as either voting members or guests in the future. We guess you would have to say that we are indeed Synod Junkies.
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