Posted by: smstrouse | May 3, 2013

Reception of a Congregation: Synod Assembly 2013

I thought it would be rather anti-climactic. First United was going to be welcomed at our Sierra Pacific Synod assembly. I wondered whether, by delaying our decision to rejoin the ELCA as long as we did, the moment had passed; people just wouldn’t be interested any longer. After all, we voted to rejoin the denomination last summer. Our service of reconciliation and healing was in October. What was left to be said?


I needn’t have worried. After the bishop called council president Steve Johnson and myself up to the podium, the response of the assembly was overwhelmingly warm and affirming. It looks like I’m scowling in the picture, but I wasn’t. I was feeling a sense of awe as the sustained applause washed over us. It was a satisfying finale to the long journey of this congregation through expulsion and readmission.

And now we’re back. But to what have we returned? I must say that this year’s assembly had a different feel to it. Maybe it’s because we’ve moved on from debating endlessly about sexuality. Maybe it’s because most of those who were opposed to full inclusion have left. In any event, the theme of ‘Re-formation’ was front and center.

It was refreshing to hear a key-note speaker addressing the reality of declining church membership in a way that didn’t whine or reminisce about the ‘good old days.’ Instead, David J. Lose, Director of the Center for Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary, encouraged us to avoid  beginning from a negative, problem based position and to reframe our situation – using our imagination and creativity to be a church that is able to connect to the needs of the people in our communities.

A few of the memorable quotes from David J. Lose, Director of the Center for Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary:

  • “The bad news: there is no plan. The good news: there is no plan.”
  • “Seminaries are the repositories of the best practices of the last generation.”
  • “Let the youth lead.”
  • “We’re writing a new chapter in Acts.” (via Ruben Doran, ELCA Director for Development of New Congregations)

Lots to think about. Lots to do. All in all, it’s good to be back.



  1. Willkommen nach Hause!


  2. […] published May 3, 2013 by Pastor Susan […]


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