Attending the recent Assembly of the Synod of the Northeast was a new experience for me. I had previously served as a Theological Student Advisory Delegate (TSAD) at the 2000 General Assembly, so I had some idea how a national governing body did its work. I thought attending a Synod meeting would be the same but more focused on regional issues. I was right but also very wrong.
My fellow Commissioners, Susan, Judy, and Samantha have already reported on the meeting and the business of the Assembly. I want to lift up a very different aspect of our time together. As our meeting unfolded I was aware that there was a different spirit at work in the deliberations of the Assembly.
Our experience with church meetings at the local level is one of dealing with specific issues that are important to our local churches and the presbytery. Although in recent years we have worked hard to bring a sense of worship into our meetings, I think there is still a feeling among attendees that we need to get the work done so we can go home. This was not spirit of the Synod Assembly.
From the opening gavel to the final benediction after communion on Saturday, there was a sense of unity and a common bond to explore new ways forward to solve problems common to all people in our region and the broader society. Instead of lifting up what can’t be done, the focus of our deliberations was on what we can do together. We, as a regional body, felt energized to find “new ways forward” in addressing the issues of our time. As a common body, the Synod of the Northeast, we were being challenged to bring our joint strengths together to make the changes necessary to make a difference. Instead of feeling alone in our struggles to address the concerns of our time there was sense of power in our common purpose and focus. God’s Spirit was truly working in that place to provide us with the direction and the ability to take on the seemingly impossible.
I would encourage everyone in our local churches and our presbytery to at some point find a way to take an active part in the workings of the Synod. Be a part of the greater church at work. Feel the empowerment that comes in our common bond as followers of Jesus Christ. Together we can find a new way forward in addressing the trials of our time in the unity of the Body of Christ.