2019 Southeast Pennsylvania Synod Assembly

The 2019 Southeast Pennsylvania Synod Assembly met Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4, under the theme Building Beloved Community.  Pastor Reimer, Alan Eickhoff and Linda Eickhoff were in attendance representing St. John’s, Hatboro.

The concept of beloved community, popularized by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is a global vision in which poverty, hunger, homelessness, militarism, racism, sexism, and all forms of bigotry and prejudice are supplanted by a spirit of inclusion, unity, peaceful conflict resolution, reconciliation, and sharing the wealth of the earth with all people.

For Christians, building beloved community also means seeking understanding, partnership, and common ground with people of different denominations and faith traditions, as well as people who do not believe. The Assembly explored ways that Lutherans can cultivate the Kingdom of God inside church walls and in their neighborhoods and communities.

The keynote speaker was the Rev. Nicole D. Diroff, associate director of Interfaith Philadelphia. She provides oversight for the organization’s many Dare to Understand initiatives, coordinates the Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia, and directs Interfaith Philadelphia’s Year of Civil Conversations and Passport to Understanding projects.  She spoke at the Friday morning session.

The Rev. Wyvetta Bullock, ELCA Assistant to the Presiding Bishop and Executive for Administration, was the churchwide representative. She gave the message at the Saturday morning worship service.  She also led the workshop on Friday afternoon entitled “Leadership Rooted in Baptism” attended by Alan.

Additional Friday afternoon workshops explored various aspects of the beloved community theme, including

  • “The Beloved Community and What He Said” facilitated by the Anti-Racism Team;
  • “Building the Beloved Community Beyond Our Walls” attended by Linda;
  • “Boundaries 101: How They Keep Your Church Healthy”;
  • “Kingdom Building:  Equipping Leaders to Effectively Partner with God”;
  • The Five Gifts of Discipleship:  A Guide for Living Our Faith in Daily Life” attended by Linda;
  • “Stewardship in the Beloved Community:  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” attended by Alan;
  • “Being the Presence of Christ in the World”; and “Developing a Culture of Generosity.”

Business Activities

Friday and Saturday each had “business” type activities: electing members of the Synod Council, recognizing rostered leaders who have passed away in the previous year, recognizing rostered leaders marking milestone anniversaries of ministry, and recognizing congregations marking milestone anniversaries.  Also, there were reports from the Secretary, the Treasurer, the Finance Committee, and approval of the budget for 2020.  A resolution entitled “Advocating for Immigrants and Refugees in Our Communities was approved.  Also adopted was a memoranda/resolution for the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly that endorsed “The Earth Charter.”  A memorandum for the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly entitled “Anti-Racism Education Emphasis” submitted by the SEPA Synod Anti-Racism Team was also adopted.

Communion Worships Service

Saturday morning began with a communion worship service.  With about 500 people in attendance, the “Beloved Community” spirit was strongly in evidence.  Following the service, additional presentations were made by Ms. Tracey A. Beasley, Synod Vice President; Rev. Bran Penman, Chairperson of the Vitality Committee (the committee was designated to receive the offering from the church service); Rev. Dr. Wyvetta Bullock, Assistant to the Presiding Bishop/Executive for Administration ELCA Churchwide Representative; the Anti-Racism Team;  and Dr. Richard Green, Interim President of United Lutheran Seminary.

The Mission Center was adjacent to the sanctuary and also close to the tent in the parking lot where lunch for both days and dinner for Friday was served.  Various groups such as Kencrest, WELCA, United Seminary, Interfaith, Lutheran Immigration, and Refugee Service, Northeast Regional Archives of the ELCA and The Lutheran Historical Society of Eastern Pennsylvania had staff at tables with materials.  Having arrived more than 45 minutes early on Saturday morning and being a retired history teacher, I had a wonderful discussion with Rev. Jim Garcia of the Historical Society.

This was our 4th consecutive assembly and we have learned much in these years.  One thing we have learned is that much more happened than what we can list here.  Go to MinistryLink.org for specific reports and the YouTube version for full video coverage.  Another thing that we have learned is that the weather for the first weekend of May will be cloudy and cool at best and you are lucky if it doesn’t include precipitation.  Finally, we have learned that we enjoy seeing the workings of our church, catching up with friends, and sharing the fellowship of a “Beloved Community”.

The next synod assembly will be May 1 and 2, 2020 at the Franconia Mennonite Church.  Mark your calendar as visitors are as welcome as voting delegates.

Related Links

MinistryLink.org

Kencrest

WELCA

United Seminary

Interfaith

Lutheran Immigratio, and Refugee Service

Northeast Regional Archives of the ELCA

The Lutheran Historical Society of Eastern Pennsylvania