by Julie K. Aageson
Voting members representing the 100,000 plus Lutherans in eastern North Dakota gathered April 21-22 in Fargo around the theme, Raising Up Children of God. Youth and young adults were a significant part of the assembly serving as voting members, assembly planners, worship and music leaders, workshop presenters, registration assistants and more.
Wartburg Seminary professor and assembly keynoter, Dr. Nathan Frambach, helped assembly participants consider what it means to contextualize ministry for today’s world, helping birth a new way of being church while honoring past traditions and wisdom. Frambach talked specifically about welcome and hospitality as qualities that reflect more interest in the needs of the outsider than in the expectations of the host. Accompanying youth on the edges and seeking to understand the religious lives of young people also were themes Frambach addressed in two breakout sessions.
Additional breakout sessions focused on The Project FM, Peer Ministry, Bible Camp Ministry, Young Adults in Global Mission, Campus Ministry, Restoring Relationships and issues of restorative justice, Heart River Lutheran Ministry with at risk youth from the Youth Correctional Center in Mandan, and a synod hearing on the ELCA draft of a social statement on criminal justice.
ELCA Churchwide Executive Director of Mission Advancement, Christina Jackson-Skelton reported 60 new ELCA mission starts. Five new ministries are currently under development in Eastern North Dakota: Recovery Worship, Fargo; Native American Christian Church, Fargo; Journey in Faith, West Fargo; First Sudanese Lutheran, Fargo; and The Project FM. The effort to eradicate malaria and its deadly grip especially in Africa has resulted in 3 million dollars raised by ELCA members as part of the Malaria Initiative. Christus Rex, a campus ministry of the ELCA at the University of North Dakota, recently received a grant to help support ongoing awareness for the Malaria Initiative.
Bishop Bill Rindy shared a list of “95 Gratitudes“, a way of combining the Beatitudes with Luther’s 95 Theses and a reminder to the whole assembly of the ways we are church together. Citing many examples of shared ministry with both local and global implications, Rindy challenged voting members to consider how better to be the Body of Christ inviting conversation around three questions:
- Why in God’s name does your congregation exist?
- What is God calling you to do for Christ’s sake?
- How is the Holy Spirit equipping you for this work?
Fifteen persons were recognized for having completed the Congregational Leadership Academy on Evangelism. The synod’s endowment fund continues to grow and is now $3 million strong and has given away $1 million to pastors and seminarians to date. Eastern North Dakota’s Companion Synod, the Central African Republic, benefited from over $53,000 collected this past year in an effort called M&M’s in the C.A.R. Congregational anniversaries were recognized together with special anniversaries or ordination.
Keynoter, Dr. Nathan Frambach, noted a “positive vibe” in this assembly, a sense of passion and enthusiasm for the work we do together and gratitude for the Body of Christ and the difference it can make in the world. 500+ attendees including guests worshiped, debated, learned, and wrestled with what it means to be a servant church that truly raises up children of God.
- View Synod Assembly photos…
- 2012 Synod Assembly Minutes: read online | download
- 2012 Synod Assembly Resolutions
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