2018 Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod Assembly
June 8-9 at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Wilkes-Barre, PA
Materials for Download or Viewing
On Friday morning, June 8, delegates and visitors from congregations of the synod gathered for this year’s assembly. After reports from Bishop Zeiser and the officers of the synod, the Assembly was addressed by Pastor President Gustavo Gómez Pascua from our companion church, Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Unida, in Argentina and Uruguay. He shared some of the topics and concerns trending in his church. Many were similar to the challenges faced by congregations of the ELCA. Pastor President Pascua brought along his guitar; and on several occasions, he led the Assembly in songs used by congregations in his church.
A highlight of the Friday afternoon session was the official reception of the Hmong Community Evangelical Lutheran Church as a congregation of our synod. In 1978, Saint Simeon’s Lutheran Church in Philadelphia sponsored the first Hmong family from Laos to the Greater Philadelphia area, Mr & Mrs. Chou Koua Kue. Over the next three years, Saint Simeon would continue to sponsor over 15 Hmong families. In 1989, with the number of families reaching 34 families, the Saint Simeon’s Council decided to allow and support the first Hmong service for the Hmong members. Finally, in February of 1996, the Hmong members at Saint Simeon’s Lutheran Church formed and established the Hmong Community Evangelical Lutheran Church. Eventually the church migrated to St. John’s Lutheran Church in Pottstown from June 2005 through June 2012. When all of its members relocated and settled within Berks & Lancaster counties, the church found a new home at Allegheny Evangelical Lutheran Church in 2012.
Friday’s program closed with a Festival Worship Service. Music for this and the other worship events was led by Dr. Michael Krentz. Bishop Zeiser preached on the story of Salome, mother of James and John, asking Jesus if her boys could sit at his right hand and his left. The bishop suggested that the earthly desire for grand buildings, and for social power and prestige in the community, are much like hoping to sit next to Jesus. Jesus’ response to Salome, and to the church of the 21st century is: “It will not be so among you.” The bishop suggested that longing for the security that once came with grand church buildings and an honored place in the community is as misguided in our time as was longing to sit at Jesus’ right or left sides in his time. This is a new way, God’s way. The bishop then asked: “Is there room for a new way in our congregations?” And the answer is: “Yes.” We are not doomed to fail, because we have the power and hope of the resurrection. An offering of $2,859.92 was collected for the Young Adult in Global Ministry program.
On Saturday morning, June 9, opening worship was led by Pr. Maritza Dolich. An offering of $2,547 was collected for World Hunger. The assembly then approved the 2019 Spending Plan and the 2019 Compensation Guidelines for Pastors and Deacons. It also adopted two resolutions that were filed with the Committee of Reference and Counsel dealing with “Encouraging Congregational Statements Concerning the Closing of Congregations and the Disposition of Assets” and “Request for a Synodical Process to Determine Ministry Priorities.”
Other highlights included comments by Luke Swanson, who served a year in Argentina-Uruguay as a Young Adult in Global Mission; and the installation of the summer staff for Bear Creek Camp.
Ministry Displays, Workshops, and Service Projects
On Friday afternoon and evening the assembly was invited to visit ministry displays, and to participate in a variety of workshops and service projects. . The slideshow below contains photos from many of them. (Click here to view a description of the workshops and service projects.)