On Thursday, June 1st, Pastor Jason and I made the trip down to Ocean City, Maryland for the 30th ELCA Delaware Maryland Synod Assembly. It had been my intention for a while to attend a synod assembly, so I was looking forward to the experience and opportunity to represent St. Stephen’s. It was also my first visit to Ocean City, and I enjoyed taking in the views of the beaches as we progressed further south!
The Synod Assembly opened with a worship service, and it was fun to pick out some familiar faces in the crowd as I spotted some clergy members I’ve met in Wilmington, and some family friends from Minnesota who moved to Baltimore a couple of years ago. The subsequent two and a half days would be filled with additional worship services featuring wonderful music and gifted ministers, the installation of new Synod staff, reports, voting, fellowship, workshops, stories of faith, and lots of seafood!
The Assembly proved to be an experience of revisiting and forging connections. An unexpected personal connection occurred as I noted the familiar face of a young woman during worship. Racking my memory, I initially wondered if I might vaguely recognize her from college. It clicked a short time later, as I enjoyed the opportunity to eat dinner with some youth and young adults in the Synod. Sitting across the table from her at dinner, we soon established that while I had never met her, she was so familiar because I had spent the previous year daily passing her picture on the wall of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps house. She was one of the first residents of the Koinonia House during her LVC term in Wilmington!
During an evening worship service on the beach with the Synod’s youth and young adults, I found myself feeling a little disconnected as the group joined in singing several pieces I hadn’t ever heard. So, I was somewhat grateful when the pastor announced the final piece, “Light of the World,” a song I grew up singing in my summer Bible camp in Minnesota. However, though the lyrics were the same, the tune was just slightly different than what I was familiar with. Joining in this final song on the beach, I felt more connected with the young adults around me, and was reminded of my enduring connections to the Lutheran church in Minnesota and with the network of the ELCA stretching across the country and across the world.
In a more broad sense, the Delaware-Maryland Synod also reaffirmed their connection with the ELCA during the Assembly, as we voted to adopt nationally established changes to the language of the Model Constitution for Congregations and Model Constitution for Synods. We also voted as a Synod to connect with our communities to promote improved stewardship of our natural world and to pursue improved practices for environmental sustainability, as we adopted the Resolution on Ecological Justice. A Resolution on Welcoming the Neighbor – Immigration and Refugees, was also approved, laying the framework to establish intentional connections with these populations.
In commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Assembly attendees engaged in a process of connecting with the Catholic Church. The service incorporated perspectives of the Lutheran-Catholic Commission on Unity, as Lutherans and Catholics came together in a joint worship service in remembrance of historical violence and conflict while seeking to move forward in a spirit of greater appreciation for the significant connections which link our religious bodies.
I’m very appreciative of the opportunity St. Stephen’s provided to attend the Assembly, and for the generosity of Mike and Yvonne Lehm, who invited us to stay on their beautiful property. I emerged from the Assembly feeling a greater connection to the Synod, the ELCA, and to several members of St. Stephen’s congregation, who I enjoyed having the opportunity to spend some time with, and I look forward to carrying the Resolutions adopted and experiences gained during the Assembly into our congregation and community.
- Libby Larson