Editor’s note: Synod communicators were asked to share a highlight from their assemblies. What made a difference to participants? What was the most important part of the assembly? Responses received by presstime are included here.
Eastern Washington-Idaho, April 15-17, Boise, Idaho. ELCA pastor Herbert Anderson spoke on “Dying Gracefully,” the discontinuity in life when faced with death and realizing that God’s love conquers all. ELCA pastor Paul Palumbo followed with a liturgy developed for individuals and groups who visit the dying titled “Peace at the Last.” The assembly passed two resolutions of welcome: for veterans and their families and for refugees. They defeated a memorial to rescind the human sexuality decisions passed by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly. —Gib Dominguez
Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana, April 22-24, Arlington, Texas. The highlight was the invocation of the Spirit, beginning with opening worship and continuing throughout the bishop election. Images of the Spirit’s presence adorned the assembly hall. Volunteers made more than 500 prayer shawls, which were blessed during opening worship and worn by participants throughout the assembly. Nearly 150 of these were donated to a hospice. —Jason O’Neill
Alaska Synod, April 22-24, Anchorage. Under the theme “Rooted and Built Up in Jesus,” churchwide staff members Ruben Duran and Stephen Bouman detailed their personal rootedness in Christ, springing from the spiritual strength of families and songs of the faith. Participants were guided in recalling their own rootedness in Christ and were then built up with fresh ideas for discipleship and outreach. —David Dunlap
Rocky Mountain, April 28-30, Loveland, Colo. With the theme “Many Voices, One Song,” participants celebrated the diversity of creation. Voting members adopted a resolution that included this statement of welcome and invitation: “We as the Rocky Mountain Synod, ELCA, invite all into the fullness of God’s love. This invitation is inclusive of people of every race, national origin, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, physical or mental ability, sex, or station in life. We pledge to use our differences as gifts for our work together.” —Kent Mueller
Southwestern Texas, April 29-May 1, San Marcos, Texas. Assembly offerings for ELCA World Hunger were a focus, the first of the synod’s three-year emphasis in support of Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA. The synod will share $115,053 to help feed refugees, strengthen family farms, provide microloans, stock medical clinics through ELCA Good Gifts. Participants brought 2,183 pounds of food for a local pantry and coins totaling $533 to fund long-drop latrines. —John Dellis
Arkansas-Oklahoma, April 29-May 1, Tulsa, Okla. With the help of an ELCA Glocal Mission Team, participants explored the connections and intersections between local and global missions through music, worship, workshops, learning and conversation. Bishop Jacob Mameo from the Morogoro Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania was a special guest. —Laura Bunch
Pacifica, May 5-7, Irvine, Calif. With the theme “Called for Such a Time as This,” the assembly elected a new bishop and reflected on where God is calling them to be today and as they look ahead to the future. With the help of ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and Bible study leader Shauna Hannan of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, Calif., participants were challenged, inspired and sent forth in mission. —Terri Robertson
Minneapolis Area, May 6-7, Eden Prairie, Minn. Under the theme “Can I Get a Witness?” storyteller Michael Mann described the power of stories by explaining how the human brain responds. ELCA pastor Barbara Lundblad contributed to the theme by retelling biblical narratives as stories. Worship opened with a dozen synodical leaders pouring water from their local watershed into the baptismal font as a reminder of our connection to creation. —Bob Hulteen
Southeastern Minnesota, May 6-7, Rochester, Minn. The theme was “We are Church Together for the Sake of the World.” Bishop Steven Delzer introduced a new mission statement: The synod “is equipping congregations and leaders to follow Jesus into a changing world.” He also emphasized the synod’s top three priorities: developing leaders, equipping congregations and accompanying global partners.
Southeastern Iowa, May 6-7, Coralville, Iowa. Under the theme “Drawn to the Light of God,” participants were joined by Ruben Duran, churchwide representative, and Jason Chesnut, who performed biblical storytelling from the book of John. Keynote speakers from area ministries included Joel Nau on hunger and poverty, Lee Schott on ministry with those incarcerated, and A.J. Houseman on leadership and calling in ministry. —Valerie Harlynn
Southeast Michigan, May 13-14, Pinckney, Mich. Highlights included a barbecue dinner with bluegrass music under the big top, as well as the successful adoption of two churchwide memorials: African Descent Lutheran Lives Matter and Increased Advocacy for a Just Peace in the Holy Land.
—Robin J. McCants
Northern Great Lakes, May 13-14, Marquette, Mich. Participants met in conference mission meetings to discuss needs for their communities. Responses included the impact of a mine closing, and drug and mental health issues. Jim Duehring, coordinator of the experience, said, “People seemed to respond well to this opportunity and realized that there are many needs in our communities, and our churches can be a stronger and more effective witness by working together.” —Sue Shallow
North/West Lower Michigan, May 15-17, Grand Rapids, Mich. Meeting under the theme “For the Life of the World,” highlights included a “Service for the Healing of the Nations”; recognition of Raymond W. Bartels’ 70th ordination anniversary; and the baptism of James Justin Walker, son of ELCA pastors Justin Walker and Jessica Rivera-Walker. The baptism was greatly celebrated, as Rivera-Walker had had a difficult pregnancy. —Sue Sprang
East Central of Wisconsin, May 20-21, Green Bay, Wis. The theme was “Listening Deeply to the Voice of the Other.” At a pre-assembly event, participants heard the history of the African American community and institutional racism in Appleton, Wis. Judith Roberts, ELCA program director for racial justice, addressed racism and white privilege. Members of the Stockbridge-Munsee band of the Mohican tribe from Church of the Wilderness in Bowler, Wis., led worship based on their powwow service. —Paul Heykes
Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast, May 19-21, Houston. John Nunes, president of Concordia College-New York, led the assembly in reimagining spirituality from the edges, taking note that those liminal spaces where we find ourselves are places to experience spiritual growth. Attendees participated in service projects that included volunteering at a food bank, making no-sew blankets and cards of encouragement, and working with organizations that work with the homeless. They launched an ELCA World Hunger Campaign, with a goal to raise $500,000 by the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. —Andrea Martínez
Northwestern Ohio. May 19-21, Findlay, Ohio. Assembly and Youth Gathering participants celebrated the 18 years of service of retiring Bishop Marcus Lohrmann while anticipating the election of a new bishop. Speakers reminded participants of the ever-present love of God that meets us all at the foot of the cross. —Sherry Krieger
Metropolitan New York, May 19-21, Mellville, N.Y. Under the theme “Confronting Racism through Connection, Commitment, Courage,” participants shared personal testimonies on race and discussed steps that could be taken toward racial justice. Kelly Brown Douglas, professor at Goucher College, Baltimore, and an Episcopal priest, discussed theological insights on how racism shapes culture and our response as Christians. —Rebekah Thornhill
Northwest Washington, May 20-21, Everett, Wash. The ELCA Glocal Team led the assembly in music, worship and workshops. “Glocal” takes the best of what we have learned from our global missions ministries and applies the principles of companionship and accompaniment to local ministries. Participants pondered how they engage those around them, heard examples of how congregations can meet their neighbors, and were inspired to join in God’s work already taking place in their neighborhoods. —Susan Berg
Northwestern Minnesota, May 20-21, Moorhead, Minn. With the theme “Truth and Love at the Crossroads,” ELCA pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber engaged participants in honest and compassionate discourse, learning how to recognize uncomfortable truths and cultivating speaking the truth in love. The assembly lifted up Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA—the synod has raised $1,325,887 toward its $4.75 million goal. —Hope Duetscher
Southeastern, May 27-29, Birmingham, Ala. The assembly celebrated the signing of companion synod agreements with the Lutheran Church in Malaysia and the Lutheran Church in Singapore. It celebrated 275 years of ministry for its oldest congregation, Ascension Lutheran, Savannah, Ga., and received its newest congregation, Celebration of Grace, Canton, Ga. Celebrations continued with a simulcast symbolic groundbreaking ceremony of the McKanna-Sandrock Retreat Center at Lutheranch, a NovusWay property in Tallapoosa, Ga. —Carolyn Nottingham Davis
Elected: Erik Karl Joseph Gronberg, 38, as bishop of the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Mission Area, effective July 1.
When: April 23 on the fifth ballot with 168 votes. Jane Mar, bishop assistant for lifelong leadership formation, received 125 votes.
Bio: Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Fort Worth, Texas. Served congregations in Wisconsin and Washington. Earned degrees from Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., and Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. Currently a doctoral candidate at Dallas Baptist University.
Replaces: Kevin S. Kanouse, who retires June 30.
Elected: Andrew A. Taylor, 58, as bishop of the Pacifica Synod, effective Aug. 1.
When: May 6, on the fifth ballot with 174 votes. David Nagler, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, Pacific Beach, Calif., received 165 votes.
Bio: Pastor of St. Andrew Lutheran Church, San Diego. Served First (Tulare) and Emanuel (La Habra) Lutheran churches in California. Earned degrees from California State University, Long Beach, and Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.
Replaces: Murray D. Finck, who retired
Elected: Daniel Beaudoin, 47, as bishop of the Northwestern Ohio Synod, effective Aug. 1.
When: May 21, on the fourth ballot with 273 votes to 108 votes for Anita Marshall, pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church, Norwalk, Ohio.
Bio: Pastor of St. John Lutheran Church, Stony Ridge, Ohio. Previously served St. Peter Lutheran Church, Edon, Ohio. Earned degrees from Oakland University, Rochester, Mich., Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, and the University of Toledo (Ohio).
Replaces: Marcus Lohrmann, who will retire this summer.