by Michael Flanagin and Sara Tiller
Sara and I had the privilege of being the elected lay voting members from CGS to attend this year's Synod Assembly, which was in Sacramento. This is a wonderful time to connect with other congregations, share ideas of what we can do to support each other in our mission, and to hear updates about what is going on in the greater ELCA!
Here is a recap of the major sessions, along with a few notes from me and Sara:
FIRST KEYNOTE - Rozella Haydee White
Rozella Haydee White treated us to the first session of her keynote address: The Art of Neighboring: Seeing, Knowing and Loving.
Focusing on Seeing, she told us her story, so that we could begin to know her. "To do work, especially work of the people variety, you have to be held accountable to a community." "Love is my super power."
We need to see people, because together we are smarter. She invited us to turn our judgement into curiosity and to make connections between what's happening in this place and what's happening outside. We cannot talk about community until we know who we are first. When we truly see ourselves, we can open to seeing who "they" are.
Rev. Tracie Bartholomew, Bishop of the New Jersey Synod, led Bible studies
The Rev Tracie Bartholomew, Bishop of the New Jersey Synod led us in a study of The Greatest Commandment, found in Matthew 22, Mark 12, and Luke 10. She talked about how this commandment is ingrained in our being, grounded in our history and provides an anchor in chaos.
She reminded us that the greatest commandment is a quote from Deuteronomy and Leviticus - something the first hearers would have known quite well.
Bishop Tracie reminded us that we are to give all we are and all we have. We are to love God with intellect and feelings, gifts and skills, heart and mind! God and Neighbor are inseparable!
Synod Vice President-Ms. Gail Kiyomura
Synod Council-Mr. Nicholas Hayes (Young Adult)
Synod Council-Ms. Sophia Hofmann (Youth)
Synod Council-Pastor Gregg Brown (At Large)
ELCA Churchwide Assembly Voting Members Elected from Conferences: Redwood Mountain (1): Mr Stephan Fratallone; Bridges (2): Pr Dawn Roginski; Capitol Valley (3): Ms Jeanne Miller; Sierra Nevada Foothill (4): Pr Erik Allen; San Francisco Peninsula (5): Mr Joshua Hayes; El Camino Real (6): Ms Laurie Gaumer; Mt. Diablo (7): No one nominated – synod council will fill this position; Sierra Central Valley (8): Pr Sylvia Mueller; Central Joaquin Valley (9): Ms Danielle Haar; Person of Color/Primary Language Other Than English: Pr Tuhina Rasche Person Under 30 Years of Age: Ms Catherine Slabaugh
Special Guest: Bishop from El Salvador (Bishop Medardo Gomez Soto)
Bishop Medardo brought greetings from El Salvador, one of our companion synods, and served as the preacher for our worship service.
Installation of Rev. Sarah & Adam Erickson (have you met them yet? They have been visiting CGS)
Fun fact: Did you know that Mt. Cross is "pan-Lutheran", and is supported by the two largest Lutheran denominations in the US? The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), and the ELCA.
SECOND KEYNOTE - Rozella Haydee White
Rozella White challenged us to value our feelings as much as we value our thinking. To be truly human, we need to accept all of who God made us to be. God chose to join us and become human to "feel all the feels." If we are not paying attention to our feelings, we are ignoring our values.
We need to be aware of what we truly value. As disciples of Jesus, we say we value our relationship with God through Christ, so why do we find it so easy to talk passionately about things we invest our time and money in (movies, hobbies, family), but find it so hard to tell the stories about how Jesus has changed our lives.
We met with our conference (Conference D - Pastor Manda is currently the dean of our conference), and discussed what we could do to support each other and share ideas. Did you know that our conference goes all the way down to King City? Or that our synod (Sierra Pacific Synod) encompasses all of Northern CA and Northern NV?
It was a wonderful assembly, and we appreciate the opportunity to serve our congregation and our synod in this way.
Michael & Sara