Here are my thoughts as a theologian and pastor (turned reporter) writing about Synod 2015...
When asked to join The Banner’s synod reporting staff, I wondered, “Why me?” But, then again, “Why not me?” Like President Persenaire, I had also been somewhat of a “Synod Loud Mouth” junkie. I had stood up and said, “Point of Order, Mr. Chairman,” more than once. I had added my infinite wisdom to the discussion on the floor...more than once. I had even attended synod when not a delegate but living in the area...more than once. All of which culminated in attending Synod 2011 and getting elected Vice-President. Talking about “Synod Loud Mouths,” one learns that electing their kind to the podium takes care of their need to cue in for speaking. Blessed silence!
Reporting without injecting opinions or observations reflecting my take was a discipline learned by watching an editor simply strike or delete as much as a paragraph of wonderful observations waiting to be read by Banner readers eagerly anticipating such insights. It took a bit of practice and suffering that pain of editorial cutting for me to realize my limitation as a reporter, no longer a theologian/pastor pronouncing profound insights.
Now freed from the pure reporting mode, I share unsolicited insights eagerly anticipated by anyone desperate to read something.
Synod 2015 was an industrious synod. It approved a major restructuring of its governance system…let’s see where that all goes. A sixty member Council of Delegates may easily become, as was expressed with concern, a mini-synod. Synod enthusiastically accepted the joining—not merger—of Home and World Missions. Rumor has it that it’ll be named HIS Mission (Home, International & Still Mission). Synod’s endorsing over forty(40) candidates for Ministry of the Word, while extending thirty(30) left over from last year, makes for more than seventy (70) men and women eager to do ministry somehow, somewhere. These, in addition to others released from their churches by way of Article 17, should leave no searching church without a pastor.
Synod 2015 enjoyed fellowship and encouragement by way of well-led and meaningful daily opening worship, setting the tone for a day. Fellowship and making new friends is a by-product of synod’s gathering that’s remembered for years. Connections made last, and often “calls” issued by churches come soon after these connections are made at a forum where gifts are demonstrated and little conversations lead to names being suggested. Not a bad by-product! Hearing stories from churches abroad, as well as from across the country or the 49th parallel, stimulates thought and appreciation for the greatness of Christ’s Kingdom. A testimonial dinner with Rod Hugen’s delightful cuts at pompousness, as well as sincere appreciation for retirees, is a pool party in the midst of a walk in God’s good creation.
Synod 2015’s officers reflected both gender, ethnic and bi-national diversity, appropriately so. The CRCNA has that diversity, although not in the same ratio as reflected by the officers. But synod made it clear! We’re working on it! Again and again, the delegates affirmed all present, at times straining to understand the words from someone speaking English as their second language while at the same time affirming their being there. Mealtime table composition demonstrated the desire to learn to know each other and listen to differing viewpoints. Advisory committees were the places where strong exchanges took place resulting in recommendations that indicated, “Hey, we not only talk, but we listen!”
This pastor-turned-reporter will continue to reflect on a synod that enjoyed its work, moved the kingdom ahead, and clearly demonstrated a reliance on God’s grace. The seed planted, unlike Jack’s beanstalk, takes a while to grow into a sustainable plant. But then, it’s God who causes the growth, His Spirit that gives the increase. Oops, time to stop, the theologian is re-emerging.