By Bob Hulteen
Over the years, I’ve been to more than five dozen church conventions. I’ve probably been a voting member at a couple dozen; and an observer, first with my parents and then on my own, at more – in Western North Dakota, Eastern North Dakota, Northwestern Minnesota, Metro DC, and the Minneapolis Area.
As the associate director of the Minnesota Council of Churches, I also attended United Methodist (the best), United Church of Christ, Episcopal, and Presbyterian assemblies, as well as all the other Minnesota ELCA synods. And then, as editor of Metro Lutheran, I went to local and national conventions of the alphabet soup of the other Lutheran church bodies — LCMS, WELS, ELS, NALC, LCMC, AFLC, AALC, and CLC.
“In all my nerd-dom, I very much enjoy assemblies.”
I promise I’m not trying to sound egotistical – I’m not bragging, we’re in Lent and this is confession. I’m officially a church nerd.
In all my nerd-dom, I very much enjoy assemblies. All of them – my own and others’. Even if I show up sleepy-eyed and under-caffeinated, I leave feeling energized by good conversation with good people and by learning some new things from the folks who stood up in front and shared insights. I even appreciate the business that takes place – I’d rather be there for it than not, because I want to be a part of the process.
Now, I am inside the planning of assemblies. It’s a huge responsibility. Huge! I want everyone to find a part of the assembly – or hopefully all of it – that connects them more deeply with the church universal.
THE THEME OF THE 2017 Minneapolis Area Synod Assembly is “Real Presence: In our neighborhoods, with our neighbors.” We have some of the greatest preachers in the ELCA – Ruben Duran, Barbara Lundblad, and David Lose, pastors all – as keynoters. It’s like having the Festival of Homiletics All-Stars at our synod assembly. We will be so full of inspiration that we won’t need meals. (But, we will have meals; don’t worry.)
In our increasing efforts to be ecologically aware, we will use the guidebook app this year. This means we will use much less paper and ink; all the information and resources you will need will be at your fingertips on your smart phone, iPad, or tablet. (Just remember, it’s all about the electrons.)
“Since there are fewer resolutions than recent years, synod leaders are planning table discussions around a couple of issues that are before many of our congregations – racism and sanctuary congregations.”
The business agenda will include budget adjustments and constitutional changes, as well as discussion of one resolution (engaging our Muslim neighbors). Since there are fewer resolutions than recent years, synod leaders are planning table discussions around a couple of issues that are before many of our congregations – racism and sanctuary congregations. Everyone has a voice in these conversations.
And, rumor has it that a Jeopardy-like game will be on the agenda again. I am going to suggest, if you are interested in playing, that you start looking at hymns right now. That’s all I’m saying.
And we will do something to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran movement. Guaranteed, it will be mentioned, at least.
Are you a voting member for your congregation? Are you a rostered leader? Or, are you just someone who is now curious about what happens at synod assembly this year?
Let those who will be attending from your congregation know that you are interested in the workings of the broader church – from New Hope to Nigeria and from Longfellow to Leipzig, we are one body. And, one way we live that out is by coming together in assembly. We are church together … a real presence in our neighborhoods and with our neighbors.