Our 2023 Synod Assembly Logo
What's it mean?
The logo for this year's synod assembly features a phoenix. The phoenix is a mythical creature that burns up, dies, and resurrects to new life, over and over again. This synod encapsulated our theme of going beyond death to life. We are a people of resurrection, resilience, and perseverance.
Spoken Word Poet, Joe Davis & David Scherer, Musician
MEET JOE: Joe Davis is a nationally-touring artist, educator, and speaker based in Minneapolis, MN. He employs poetry, music, theater, and dance to shape culture. His work has been featured on BET, CNN, and VH1. He is the Founder and Director of multimedia production company, The New Renaissance, the frontman of emerging soul funk band, The Poetic Diaspora, co-creator of JUSTmove, racial justice education through art, and author of We Rise Higher: Poems and Prayers for Graduates. He has keynoted, facilitated conversation, and served as teaching artist at hundreds of high schools and universities including programs in New York, Boston, and most recently as the Artist-in-Residence at Luther Seminary where he earned a Masters in Theology of the Arts.
MEET DAVID: Combining rapping, dancing, storytelling and his fluency in Spanish, AGAPE* connects with his listeners in a way that they really "get it". His energy is contagious, and his stories of faith transcend differences. Even those who do not normally enjoy hip-hop, find themselves dancing to his music and captivated by his unique presentation of the Gospel. AGAPE* brings an authentic approach by translating the theological depth of his seminary training into simple songs and stories that can be understood by every listener. His passion is to bring together people of all backgrounds and let them know about God's love for the whole world. This is "AGAPE*"!
Festival Worship Preacher: Bishop Patricia Ann Curtis Davenport
MEET BP. DAVENPORT: The Rev. Patricia Ann Curtis Davenport assumed office as bishop of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) on August 1, 2018. Overwhelmingly elected by the Synod Assembly on May 5, 2018, she is the first African-American woman to be elected a bishop in the 3.8-million-member ELCA. She currently serves as Vice-Chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops.
Bishop Davenport is a member of Spirit and Truth Worship Center, Yeadon, which she served as its founding pastor/developer. She received the master of divinity degree from the former Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, now United Lutheran Seminary. She received a Certificate in Black Church Concentration from the seminary’s Urban Theological Institute and is a certified ELCA Level One Coach.
She has served the national church in a variety of capacities, including co-chair of the ELCA’s Guiding Coalition, member of the Congregational Vitality and African Descent Strategy teams, and secretary of the board of Lutheran Services in America. She is a lifetime member of the Philadelphia chapter of the African Descent Lutheran Association and is active with the Black Clergy of Philadelphia, Metropolitan Christian Council, the Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia and Vicinity, and Christians United Against Addictions.
Keynote Speaker: Bishop Michael Girlinghouse
MEET BP. GIRLINGHOUSE: Many congregations have experienced significant decline in recent decades, and the pandemic has only accelerated the pace. Michael Girlinghouse believes that until we learn to mourn these losses, congregations and leaders will be unable to think creatively about the future. Drawing on more than thirty years of research and ministry, Girlinghouse will show us how to work through our collective grief without forgetting or devaluing our past. He will present some practical actions for embracing God’s future for our congregations, for “remembering forward,” and for moving from the sadness of loss to the joy of taking up life again.
Michael Girlinghouse has served as Bishop of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod since July of 2011. Prior to being called to serve as Bishop, he was Pastor of University Lutheran Church in Norman, OK and Campus Pastor for the University of Oklahoma. Ordained in 1987, Bishop Mike has served as a parish pastor, campus pastor and in congregations in transition or in need of a substitute pastor. Bishop Mike has also served as an instructor at two universities teaching courses in Death and Dying and World Religion. Bishop Mike was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, attended college at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN and seminary at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He is married and has one adult daughter. He loves to cook, is a devotional writer, photographer, plays trombone and the djembe drum.
Churchwide Presenter: Iain Chester, ELCA Executive Director for Innovation.
MEET IAIN CHESTER (he/him): he lives in Chicago, Illinois, and serves as Executive Director for Innovation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) Churchwide Organization. In his role, Iain works with leaders and communities as they address the church’s biggest challenges of today while generating a path forward for the future. He believes the church can be part of positive change and likes to hear the stories of the creative ways people make that happen.
Iain has served with the ELCA Churchwide Organization over the past seven years in a variety of roles, including as Manager for Network Engagement with ELCA World Hunger. During his time with ELCA World Hunger, he worked with a network of over 2,500 congregational leaders across the ELCA working toward a just world where all are fed. Iain is a graduate of North Park University, Chicago, Illinois and enjoys watching soccer, walking his dog and exploring local restaurants.