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. When provided, there is a web address for more information. For other assembly highlights, see “Synod reports: Time to learn.”
Central/Southern Illinois, June 1-3, Collinsville, Ill. The synod bishop was re-elected (see below). Via the Pedal for a Purpose fundraiser, $55,193.13 in offerings were received in support of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. An offering of $5,236.63 will support Madagascar companion synods. Voting members reluctantly approved a shift in financial support to the ELCA from 56 to 50 percent for 2018. —Robert Dealey
Indiana-Kentucky, June 1-3, Covington, Ky. Highlights included celebrating synod leaders and communities, inspiring worship, a celebratory banquet, and motivating plenary sessions and accompanying breakout sessions. New this year were hands-on service projects. During a free night, participants engaged in a more social time at the Reds/Braves baseball game or at a Beer and Hymn Sing. This was all focused around the theme of “Formed, Reformed, Transformed.” —Tom Dearchs
La Crosse Area, June 9-11, La Crosse, Wis. The closing worship service incorporated the joyful music of “Behold, I Make All Things New,” a liturgy written by the late Ben Splichal Larson. Larson, a seminarian and son of Bishop Emeritus April Ulring Larson and Judd Larson, was killed during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He left a legacy of many spirit-filled and liturgical works. The assembly also collected more than 500 “Coverings of Care” quilts from congregations for Lutheran World Relief and local ministries. —Gayda Hollnagel
Lower Susquehanna, June 2-3, Grantham, Pa. In keeping with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the theme was “R3: reFORM + reNEW + reVISION.” Keynoter Dave Daubert and Bishop James S. Dunlop introduced an 18-month congregational renewal initiative that springs from nurturing relationships with God, one another and with communities congregations are called to serve. Stan Reep, pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, York, Pa., received the Richard Lee Peterman ELCA Good Steward Award. Congregations collected more than 7,000 pounds of food to feed hungry schoolchildren during the summer. —Sharron Blezard
Metropolitan Chicago, June 9-10, Tinley Park, Ill. With the theme “Yesterday, Today, and Forever,” the synod welcomed Thomas A. Baima, archdiocesan vicar for ecumenical and interreligious affairs, Archdiocese of Chicago, who brought greetings from Cardinal Blase Cupich. He spoke about the synod and archdiocese renewing the covenant they made in 1989, and the service on Reformation Day that will be held at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. —Jeff Drake
Metropolitan Washington, D.C., June 16-17, Leesburg, Va. We’re more connected yet feel more disconnected than ever—“God has something to say about that. We’ve work to do,” said Phil Hirsch, director for evangelical mission, when introducing a synod campaign to make “New Connections.” The assembly accepted not only formal goals to reach new neighbors but also inspiration from a new Swahili-speaking synodically authorized worshiping community; a Racial Equity Team-hosted talk by Reggie Williams of McCormick Seminary, Chicago, drawing from his insights on German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s encounter with the Harlem Renaissance; and a resolution to use constitutions to clarify insistent welcome to all. —Karen Krueger
Montana, June 2-4, Great Falls, Mont. Participants celebrated their mission to “Promote Unity.” Kathryn Schifferdecker, a professor at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., preached and Michael Trice, a professor at Seattle University, gave the keynote address, reminding participants that even though Christians might disagree with each other right now and we are surrounded by disunity, unity is already ours in Christ. We are all already members of the one body. Synod-supported ministries also shared their efforts to serve the world, deepen faith and witness, and promote unity. —Jen Kunka
Nebraska, June 1-3, Kearney, Neb. Looking to the example of Martin Luther’s beverage stein, participants engaged in ways to drink deeply of their faith in commemoration of the Reformation. Participants heard Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s compelling words, were educated and challenged by St. Olaf College professor Anthony Bateza’s keynote speeches, and learned about the synod’s ministries through a hands-on “Ministry Fair.” —Brenda Rivas
New England, June 9-10, Springfield, Mass. This year’s theme for both the assembly and annual appeal is “Get Off Your Donkey,” encouraging members to act like the good Samaritan. Gabi Aelabouni, churchwide representative and Fund for Leaders director, treated the crowd to an inspiring presentation that had the crowd responding, “We are the church!” Daryl Lobban of the Mass Council of Churches preached at Friday night’s festival eucharist service. A dozen workshops and more than 30 exhibitors provided attendees with continuing education opportunities and information on many ways to get off their donkeys. —Martha Whyte
North Carolina, June 2-3, Greensboro, N.C. Remembering the Reformation anniversary and using the theme “We are Lutheran,” participants gathered to look forward as partners in ministry. Highlights included saying goodbye to three longtime synod staff people, table conversations about “Risking for Mission” and Spirit-led worship. Calling participants to the work of justice, Bishop Tim Smith urged that Jesus can’t be just one slice of the pie in our lives. “If there is any Jesus at all, Jesus is the whole pie,” he said. —Catherine Finck
Northeastern Iowa, June 9-11, Decorah, Iowa. With the theme “Celebrating Renewal: Martin Luther—The Gospel,” participants shared stories of how they or their congregations have been renewed by experiencing or sharing the gospel. Two members from Trinity Lutheran Church, Hawkeye, Iowa, stole the show with their “Toro-riffic” presentation about repurposing Toro lawn bags, which were earmarked for recycling, into bags and backpacks for Lutheran World Relief and other nonprofits. They have given away more than 500 bags. Congregations brought more than 150 flood buckets to provide cleanup supplies in areas where past flooding has occurred. Voting members adopted six resolutions, including one to establish a synod AMMPARO Network to support migrant children and their families. —Marcia Hahn
Northeastern Pennsylvania, June 2-3, Pocono Manor, Pa. This was the third and final year of the theme “Unleashed for Reformation 2017.” The assembly began with a “Rite of Repentance, Reconciliation and Common Witness” led by Bishop Samuel Zeiser and Bishop Joseph Bambara, Scranton (Pa.) Diocese. A banquet commemorating the Reformation anniversary featured insights from pastors of full-communion partners serving synod congregations. Two Young Adults in Global Mission volunteers were introduced: Luke Swanson, in Argentina via Skype, and Annie Hermann, who will be in Israel/Palestine in 2017-18. The new Word and Service Roster was recognized, with an affirmation of the deacons present. —Paul Braden
Northern Illinois, June 16-17, Rock Island, Ill. “Revitalize!” was Bishop Jeffrey Clements’ enthusiastic message to the assembly. With inspiring music and stories from ELCA Glocal musician-educators, the assembly met under the theme “Called Forward Together in Christ.” After a year of listening and visioning, Clements encouraged the assembly that the Spirit is alive and well and hard at work in synod congregations. Trusting the Spirit to lead them as they walk this road together, congregations can start from a point of strength, embrace the ELCA strategic directions, and revitalize the synod by discerning where God is leading them during this exciting and challenging time to be the church. —Karin Graddy
Northwestern Minnesota, June 9-10, Moorhead, Minn. Under the theme “Risky Business: Always Reforming,” the assembly gathered to observe the Reformation anniversary, celebrate “risk-taking” Lutherans throughout history, and ponder the kinds of bold risks God might be calling them to take in 2017. Participants attended one of 11 breakout sessions on topics such as cultivating a culture of call, the “Declaration on the Way,” and affirmation and hospitality for the LGBTQ community. They were also given the opportunity to reflect on how their congregation has been reforming and nail those thoughts to doors, just as Martin Luther did with the 95 Theses. —John Bell
South Dakota, June 1-3, Sioux Falls, S.D. With the theme “Always Reforming” in commemoration of the Reformation anniversary, the assembly was challenged to respond to changing dynamics of what it means to be church. One highlight was having Molly Beck Dean, ELCA Youth Gathering director, challenge the assembly to step into the messy discovery of young people as they seek a place to belong, desire of someone to become and find something to do. —Saywer Vanden Heuvel
Southeastern, May 26-28, Chattanooga, Tenn. At its meeting May 25, the synod’s council approved the creation of the Robert S. and Jean E. Graetz Advocacy Award. It also named the Graetzes as the award’s first recipients, honoring them for their continued work in advocacy. The couple was involved in the Montgomery bus boycott with Martin Luther King Jr. and others. —Carolyn Nottingham Davis
Southwest California, June 2-3, Thousand Oaks, Calif. Gathered under the theme “Freed in Christ to Serve,” participants voted to become both a Sanctuary and a Jubilee Synod, committing to protect the “dignity, safety, and basic human needs of all immigrants and refugees among us, even by resisting policies that seek to turn away and harm the stranger” and to pray for and take action to call for economic justice in the world’s poorest countries. The assembly also celebrated the anniversary of the Reformation with a festival communion service. —Samantha Henderson
Southwestern Minnesota, June 9-10, St. Peter, Minn. “Embrace God’s Mission, Equip God’s People” was the theme and guiding principle for the assembly. The assembly was filled with telling stories about how we are walking together in ministry with Christ as the lead, including local videos. Bishop Jon Anderson emphasized three focus areas for a funding initiative under this theme, including deepening congregational vitality, enhancing local and global mission, and developing servant leaders. All of the synod’s ministers of word and service were recognized as deacons in the opening worship service. —Linda Pedersen
Southwestern Pennsylvania, June 15-17, California, Pa. “Reformation Theology” was the theme of keynote speaker Edwin Chr. van Driel, a professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. The synod’s Hunger Task Force launched “Walk to Wittenberg” to raise funds for ELCA World Hunger. Congregations will sponsor a team that will walk 4,203 miles over the next year—the distance from Pittsburgh to Wittenberg. More than $2,500 was raised during the assembly. —Janice Jeletic
Southwestern Washington, June 16-17, Tacoma, Wash. With the theme “Deep Roots, New Life,” two wonderful worship services were held with many diverse participants. Bishop Greg Rickel of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia (Wash.) preached. The assembly kicked off a synod campaign, “Deep Roots, New Life”; held 12 workshops; and heard keynotes from Doug Oakman and Marit Trelstad from Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma. Resolutions supporting women and immigrants/refugees passed. Wingman brewery created Reformaiden Beer that debuted at the “Beer and Hymns.” —Allison Ramsey
Upper Susquehanna, June 16-17, Selinsgrove, Pa. Meeting under the theme “Together in Mission: Relating and Reforming,” the assembly connected to the world through song, work and word. ELCA Glocal musicians-educators shared global songs and helped the assembly look at how to connect to current contexts and accompany those doing mission. Two deans and the Camp Mount Luther staff were installed and a new round robin format for several committee reports allowed for more discussion with ministry partners. —Chad Hershberger
Upstate New York, June 8-10, Rochester, N.Y. With the theme “Building Bridges,” participants learned how to walk with brothers and sisters around the world. A Global Cafe focused on the refugee experience. ELCA Glocal musician-educators taught the assembly to bridge the culture gap through global music. Stephen Bouman, churchwide representative, and Joy Philip of Waterloo (Ontario) Lutheran Seminary talked about being church in the public arena and about the accompaniment model of ministry. More than $50,000 was received for ELCA World Hunger. —Katie Yahns
Elected: Robert F. Humphrey as bishop of the Virginia Synod, effective Sept. 1.
When: June 11, on the fifth ballot, with 217 votes. Kelly Bayer Derrick, pastor of St. Philip Lutheran Church, Roanoke, Va., received 167 votes.
Bio: Pastor of Zion and Grace Lutheran churches, Waynesboro, Va.; Muhlenberg Lutheran, Harrisonburg, Va. Received degrees from the University of Richmond (Va.) and Lutheran Southern Theological Seminary, Columbia, S.C.
Replaces: James F. Mauney, who retires Aug. 31.
Re-elected: S. John Roth as bishop of the Central/Southern Illinois Synod on the fifth ballot over Tony Metz, pastor of Luther Memorial Church, Quincy, Ill., by a 160-123 vote.