A Blog by Bishop Christopher deForest...

August 5, 2022

 “On The Way” is a play on the word “synod,” which comes from two Biblical Greek words, syn and hodos. These can mean “on the road with” and also “walking with” – since most people in Bible times (and around the world still today) got from place to place on foot.


The ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Columbus, OH starts on Monday! Our NEPS group of 25 Voting Members will join nearly a thousand others from around the nation, across the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This is my first CW Assembly – ever, not just as your bishop – and I am excited to experience our church in action in this big way.

Among the many agenda items, we will be discussing and acting on several of the 78 “memorials” brought forward by Synod Assemblies and Synod Councils. I say “several,” because there is no way any large body can meet for only five days, and get to all these issues and topics one-by-one, one at a time. So what happens is, the “Memorials Committee” of the Churchwide Council spends weeks going through all the Memorials, and finding good and faithful ways to group them together, because they cover similar or related issues. This allows us to address and act on them in combinations called “en bloc” items.

Along with this good process, Voting Members at the Assembly can also call for particular Memorials to be brought before the whole Assembly while in session. Two hours have been left every day, to allow for this.

For our part, we NEPS Voting Members have held two meetings over the past two months to prepare ourselves to do this work. We have been studying “Roberts Rules of Order” and carefully reading the content of the Memorials so we are as familiar with them as possible before the Assembly starts. We also have arranged our time in Columbus so that each day, we could meet and discuss what is happening and how we can faithfully listen, learn and respond. This is not so we can all speak and vote the same; rather, so we can be well prepared and informed to act and to vote as God moves each of our hearts and minds.

To this end – we need your help. Please pray for us, and for our whole church as it gathers to serve and love God and neighbor in this particular way. I am asking congregations and individuals to pray in worship, at your meetings and on your own this coming week, for a productive and gospel-centered meeting that moves us and keeps us in the way of Jesus Christ – as we all seek to be a better church together, and find a better way forward to renew our common life and mission.

How should you pray? Pastor Gary Walbert shared a prayer with me, that he is using with his congregation, Good Shepherd, Kreidersville. I am inviting you to use this prayer as well:

A Prayer for Church Renewal

Lord Jesus, you speak to us today, as you spoke to holy men and women who have gone before us. In every age and in our own time, you call to us and say: Renew My Church. Pour out the gift of the Holy Spirit upon us, And so enable us

  • to hear you clearly
  • to listen to each other attentively
  • to imagine our future boldly
  • to discern your direction wisely
  • to persevere in your holy will courageously
  • to stay together in charity
  • to surrender our plans readily
  • to embrace the greater good
  • to hand on your gifts to future generations

May we remain in the holy company of the apostles and the saints. May their example and presence inspire us with patient confidence in the work of your grace.

We ask this of you, who live and reign with the Father, In the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.

Pray this daily, for our ELCA Churchwide Assembly, Aug 8-12. The prayer is from St. Thomas of Villanova.

To check out all the good work that will be happening at CWA, click this link:


And here is where you can find the LiveStreaming schedule:


We will be posting NEPA Synod updates on our Facebook page and Instagram/Twitter Feeds. Keep those prayers coming, and I will also be getting back to you through this blog, certainly as soon as we return from Columbus.

On the Way of Jesus together,

Bishop Christopher deForest

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