In June, Pastor Rick and Ray Henrickson were delegates to the 2018 Synod Assembly that was held in Toronto. Also, several of Grace’s members volunteered to assist in welcoming and registering delegates to the Assembly.

In addition to business sessions for the election of Synod Officers and Council Members and the passing of 16 out of 18 motions that were brought before the Assembly, the meeting offered opportunities for members of our synod to re-establish relationships and, importantly, to worship with hundreds of Lutherans.

The theme of this year’s Assembly was Liberated by God’s Grace to be Neighbour. The theme echoed the freedom we have been given in Christ to love our neighbour. Several sessions provided contextual theology as to who and what are our neighbours, both inside and outside the church. Throughout the three day gathering, there were presentations on barriers and misunderstandings that stand in the way of being a neighbour to others: diverse religious traditions, homelessness, racism, and LGBTQA+ (the acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer or questioning, asexual and other identities). One speaker in particular, Allen Jorgenson, captured the theme of the Assembly by saying “To be neighbour is to dwell beside so as to make an enemy into a friend. Neighbouring is a verb, a way of being in the world, a way of love.”

Worship services during the assembly were powerful and inspiring. There is something special about the service and the music when it is shared among hundreds of other worshipers. Communion, on the other hand, can be somewhat chaotic with that many people participating.

Quite apart from the theological aspects, a meeting such as the synod assembly gives one insight into the operation and priorities of the Eastern Synod. It is an opportunity to meet and discuss with synod leaders, rostered and lay. It enables delegates to represent their churches and to influence, at least in part, the direction of the synod. The spiritual and functional experience leaves an indelible impression.

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