“Liberated by God’s Grace…to be neighbour.” That was the theme of our Eastern Synod Assembly that was held in Toronto from June 21st to June 24th. Before I share with you what happened at this event, it might be helpful for me to explain what a synod is and what a synod assembly is. Grace Lutheran Church is a congregation affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). The ELCIC has many Lutheran churches across Canada. The ELCIC is divided into five smaller geographic areas called synods. Individual congregations have close ties with the synod and the synod has close ties with the ELCIC. These three expressions of the Church work together to carry out the ministry that we have been called to do. We are in relationship and we support each other in our mission as Christians and our individual missions. We are like a three-legged stool. If one leg were missing, it makes sitting more challenging. If two legs were missing, it becomes even more challenging.
Just as congregations have Annual General Meetings (AGMs), the synod has a similar meeting (which is called an assembly) where each congregation sends a lay delegate and the pastor. Up until this year, the meetings were biennial. From this point forward, the meetings will take place every three years. During the synod assembly, there are ordinary business items like receiving reports, approving budgets and electing officers. However, a greater amount of time is spent on mission and ministry items that are connected to the assembly theme.
At this year’s synod assembly, our focus was on our neighbours. We had presenters/key note speakers who addressed how the Church is reaching out to our neighbours. We heard about the ministry we are doing with the indigenous community. There was a panel discussion with neighbours from other faith traditions. The President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Guyana was in attendance and addressed the assembly. There were so many wonderful and faith-filled stories shared during this time together.
The Eastern Synod office will be publishing a report of the assembly. Once it is available, we will link it here. In the meantime, please have a look at the minutes, Bishop’s Report, Bible Studies, election results, resolutions, and other material.
In many ways, the theme and timing of this synod assembly could not have come at a better time. At Grace, we need to begin a visioning process for the future ministry that God desires us to do in Oakville. We need to begin to find different ways of connecting with the community so that we can be neighbour that continues to share and show God’s love. My next few blogs will focus on our neighbourhood and who are neighbours are.