Just as St. Matthew holds congregational meetings to invite an overview of our ministries and to make particular decisions, so do ELCA congregations in NJ, gathering as the NJ Synod, hold an assembly each year. The gathering is intentionally named ― assembly‖ and not convention, and participants from each congregation are called ― voting members‖ and not delegates in order to reflect the nature of the gathering. We are church in three expressions — congregation, synod, and church-wide — and so we gather to make decisions as church, and not as politicized delegates, or sent with agendas. The expectation is that the HolySpirit is at work among us, and voting members are to discern what seems good and right for the sake of the gospel and the neighbor.
The NJ Synod Assembly met May 11-12 in New Brunswick with the theme ― Grace Abounds!‖ and with 305 voting members in attendance. We heard many reports:
- the Bishop, Synod Council, Synod Secretary and Synod Treasurer
- Mikka McCraken, ELCA Director, World Hunger
- Ministry Partners on our territory, and in which we participate
- Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy Ministry (our own Rev. Sara Lilja!)
- Cross Roads Camp & Retreat Center
- United Lutheran Seminary
- Lutheran Social Ministries of NJ
- Excellence in Ministry Unleashed
We were introduced to pastors & deacons new to our synod – ordained or transferred, and we also remembered nine pastors who died this year (an unusually large number). We voted on the spending plan for 2019, and approved 3 resolutions: concerning gun violence, concerning un- documented immigrants, and concerning the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women (in 1970 the LCA & ALC voted to ordain women – already fifty years ago!). We elected people to serve on Synod Council, attend the 2019 Churchwide Assembly in Wisconsin, and to serve on the Synod’s Discipline committees.
We worshipped and sang together, laughed, talked and prayed togeth- er, and Christ joined us together and to himself with Holy Communion Friday evening. Finally, the Bishop is challenging each congregation to increase its awareness and response to World Hunger before next Synod Assembly in June, 2019. She’s calling it ― The Bishop’s Challenge: Changing the World, One Cow at a Time!‖ The purpose is to move all NJ Synod congregations to grow in awareness, generosity, service, and advocacy in response to hunger. You’ll hear more about this in the coming year.