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Synod 2013 has made a believer out of me.  There I said it.

In my first post as synod Blogger, I confessed to y’all that, with the exception of a few critical issues, I have never followed synod all that closely.  Delegates to the Spring gathering of Classis Hackensack will recall I deferred being a delegate with this martyr’s concession: “I’ll fall on my sword next year.” 

In my second post, I wondered, rather cheekily, whether the time of a week-long gathering has past.  With an annual prayer summit and the amount of work that can get done electronically, what is the point of expense and inconvenience for synod?

But, as synod blogger, I followed the proceedings more closely and here’s what I observed:

  • Meaningful times of worship and prayer together.
  • A sense of good humor and friendship, even as difficult matters were being discussed.
  • A respect and honor being given to younger representatives and appointed “youth representatives”, demonstrating that we are a church with a strong belief in our future.
  • Raised in the Philippines, when I heard Tagalog spoken on the floor of synod, I’m not ashamed to admit my mascara ran a bit.
  • A rollicking twitter feed that helped me feel like I was passing notes in class and participating, even from hundreds of miles away.
  • Reports from the elder delegate sent from my church made me nostalgic for the quick, important and sometimes lasting friendships of summer camp.  I’m grateful that he – and many others like him – had the opportunity to participate in the work of the church.

That said, synod is never a cure-all. Sometimes it makes us all the more aware of the places where we have important work to do.  As a result of Synod 2013, I think we have a better idea of the conversations that are going to mark our denomination in the coming years:

  • The role of centralized authority and localized efforts.
  • Ongoing discussion of the nature of missional ministry, most notably in synod’s decision to slowly proceed with conversations about the roles of deacons & elders in shepherding the church.
  • A study committee appointed to discuss religious persecution (one might hope that, in addition to standing in solidarity with Christian brothers and sisters around the world experiencing such persecution, this study committee will proceed with an eye toward the persecution perpetrated against those of other faiths, recognizing in their dehumanization we too are made less.)
  • And, whether we want to or not, conversations about sexuality will continue. The discussion on the floor of synod was as heated here as anywhere else.  Nonetheless, it was our youth delegates who reminded the church that we cannot remain silent.  Therefore, a study committee to focus on applied ministry to GLBT brothers & sisters, was adopted.  It is yet to be seen whether they will be able to provide answers to the most pressing questions confronting the church within the strict parameters adopted by synod.

As I turn toward this week’s sermon preparation, I am reminded of these words from the Apostle Paul to the church at Colossae:

“Therefore, just as you received the Lord Jesus Christ, walk in him, rooted and built up in Christ, firm in faith just as you were taught.  Always abounding in thanksgiving.”

They say that my generation is marked by cynicism and a prevailing mistrust of authority structures.  But, maybe by paying closer attention, some trust was built and some cynicism was allayed. And maybe Synod 2013 made a believer out of me despite myself.

Thanks to all for your engagement!

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