30th Annual Synod Assembly
Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod, ELCA
June 2-3, 2017
Kalahari Resort & Convention Center
Pocono Manor, PA
Materials for Download or Viewing
Rite of Repentance, Reconciliation, and Common Witness
The Assembly began with a Rite of Repentance, Reconciliation, and Common Witness led by Bishop Zeiser and by Bishop Joseph Bambara of the Scranton Diocese. This was a regional expression and affirmation of an ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation held jointly by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church on October 31, 2016 in Lund, Sweden.
The Lund event highlighted the solid ecumenical developments between Catholics and Lutherans; and the joint gifts received through dialogue, particularly in anticipation of the 500th Reformation anniversary in 2017. It featured a cathedral service following the Common Prayer liturgical guide, based on the Lutheran-Catholic dialogue report “From Conflict to Communion”; and a public event to highlight activities focused on Catholics and Lutherans commitment to common witness and service in the world.
New Configuration of ELCA Rosters
Bishop Zeiser explained the new configuration of the ELCA rosters adopted at the Churchwide Assembly in 2016. Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, associates in ministry, deaconesses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and diaconal ministers were listed on a single, unified roster of Ministry of Word and Service. Ordained pastors now are rostered under Ministry of Word and Sacrament. The Assembly recognized those Ministers of Word and Service who were present, and they were affirmed (installed?) as deacons in the ELCA.
Young Adults in Global Ministry (YAGM)
At the Assembly Banquet on Friday evening two young adults were recognized for their service in the YAGM program. The ELCA invites young adults ages 21-29 into a transformative, year-long journey in international service. Through this experience, they are shaped by the witness of our global neighbors; and they share in the journeys of companion churches and organizations in one of nine countries around the world.
Luke Swanson, who serves in Argentina for the 2016-17 year, talked to the Assembly via Skype. He described both the joys and the challenges of ministry in an environment and culture very different from our own. Annie Herman, who will serve in Israel/Palestine for the 2017-18 year, attended the Banquet and was introduced to the Assembly.
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Kathryn Kleinhans
The keynote speaker was The Rev. Dr. Kathryn Kleinhans, Professor of Religion at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. Dr. Kleinhans’ teaching responsibilities are primarily in Christian theology and church history, with an emphasis on Martin Luther and the theology and history of the Reformation.
Her topic was “The Catechism and Vocation for Daily Life.” She emphasized that Luther’s Small Catechism was written for lay people, not for clergy. Luther wanted to unleash the power of the gospel for ordinary persons; and he made retained a highly personal style in his explanations of the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the other chief parts. The Small Catechism is designed to be a “Guide to Christian Living,” and Luther wanted an individual to wrestle with how each teaching affects “me.”
For Luther “vocation” is not limited to religious callings, but is the calling each person receives to live one’s daily life. “All work done responsibly for the sake of others is a calling.” This takes place at home, in community, at church, and at the workplace. Dr. Kleinhans further suggested that Lutherans be “political, but not partisan”; that is, that Lutherans work for the good of the “polis,” (Greek for city). For Luther, government is one of God’s good gifts; and citizenship is one of our “callings.” This expresses itself especially in love of neighbor, which for Luther means “Love your neighbor (not as you love yourself) but as God in Christ has loved you.”
For the third year the assembly enjoyed God’s Playground, an area set aside to celebrate ministries and other ways to be UNLEASHED. Those attending the assembly had several opportunities to wander through the Playground and discover a variety of ministries at work in our congegations.
Synod Council Election
The Assembly recognized and expressed gratitude for the years of service from Donald Smith, Vice President, and David Hinrichs, Treasurer, both of whom have volunteered countless hours for the work of the synod. Barbara J. Huffman de Belón, a current member of Synod Council, was elected vice president; and Donald R. Dillman was elected treasurer. In addition, Louise McCloughan, from the West Berks Mission District, was newly elected to a three-year term.
Two special offerings were received during the Assembly. One for World Hunger collected over $5,700; and one for the newly formed United Lutheran Seminary collected over $3,700.
Music During the Assembly
Gathering music for the sessions was provided by Bobby Siegfried, a singer/songwriter who is well known in the synod, and who has performed at many venues in northeastern PA. At times, Bobby was joined by friends from Emmanuel, Emmanuelsville and First Presbyterian, Allentown. Singing at the Eucharist was led by Mark Mummert, Director of Worship at Christ the King Lutheran Church, Houston, where he is organist and director of the Chorus, Choristers, Music Explorers, and Taizé Ensemble.
(Photography by Mark Searfoss)