Report From Your Voting Members to the Chicago Metro Synod Assembly, 2019
On June 7 and 8, the Chicago Metro Synod of the ELCA held the annual Synod Assembly for the ELCA's Chicago Metro Synod (of which Saint Stephen is a participating congregation) in Tinley Park. Voting members from Saint Stephen Lutheran Church were Pastor Rebecca, Dave McAlonan, and Toni Schramm. The theme of this year’s Assembly was “We are Called” from Isaiah 6:8:
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? And I said, ‘Here am I, Send Me.’”
During the Assembly, we approved the Synod budget, elected members to Synod Council, discussed and voted on resolutions to send to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly regarding a social statement on Faith, Sexism, and Justice: Lutheran Call to Action, as well as a resolution to help equip congregations in Dealing with Depression and Intentional Death (Suicide). We attended workshops on such topics as immigration, refugees, the power of faith to advocate, greening our congregation, The Forgotten Luther II (this might make a great book club book!), racism, housing inequality, and our church’s constitution. Most importantly, before each vote and discussion, we prayed, led by Bishop Miller and others. We invited the Holy Spirit into our midst to guide us, to help us listen to each other, and to discern God’s will.
But the primary task of this year’s assembly was to elect a bishop, as Bishop Miller is retiring after twelve years as our Synod bishop. The nomination and election process were interesting. Many fine candidates were nominated. Pastor Yehiel Curry, from Shekinah Lutheran Church in Chicago, won by simple majority on the fifth ballot. Bishop-elect Curry is a powerful speaker who says his preferred leadership style is a team approach. He emphasized that “All are welcome at the table.” He said that in spite of disagreements, we can still love each other. When asked how to attract more people to the church, Pastor Curry said to get out into the community and let people see love in action. “Make them a friend before you convert them!”
Pastor Curry (pictured below), has the tools to move us forward as a Synod.
This year’s theme of being called and sent clearly showed that we need to be a church of doing, a people who get out and do God’s work in the world. “The mission of the church requires us to integrate the work of doing justice into our life together. Justice is love in action.”
It was a privilege to be voting members at this assembly. We thank you for sending us to be part of the process. It helped us see that St. Stephen is part of something greater than our own congregation. Participating in worship during the assembly each day, and especially in the closing worship service, with hundreds of fellow Lutherans lifting our voices in song and prayer, was a powerful and moving experience. While we have many differences, we have much more in common.
We encourage more of you to get on the ballot to go to the next Synod Assembly as a voting member. Also, anyone can go as a visitor to observe. For information about this, and to learn more about our ELCA Metro Chicago Synod and its work, visit the synod website, www.mcselca.org