Last week Emily and Phil attended the annual New York Metropolitan Lutheran Synod Assembly meeting in Long Island. The following is a reflection that Phil wrote about the experience for our edification and education.
Emily and I attended the annual New York metro area Lutheran synod assembly last Friday. It was very inspiring, very aspirational. Hardly any petty fighting over power and holding on to old ways. All of the parliamentary stuff was respectful and productive, despite the fact that some hard decisions were being made. The result was a strategic plan for how to decide which churches to close and what to do with resources in the future.
I was really inspired by the plan and the conversation. The Synod is very committed to change. They talked a lot about moving away from traditional models. There was a strong theme of recognizing new types of ministry, new types of leaders, and of deemphasizing church buildings and the distinction between member and non-member. St. Lydia’s was mentioned from the podium as an example of the kind of exciting “new ministries” that are happening!
It was also an unexpected treat to see so many familiar faces — several Lutheran pastors I know in the New York and Hudson County and several who have crossed paths with St. Lydia’s, and many more friendly faces, several of whom said they’d visit St. Lydia’s in the future. There was a real sense of community, of communion.
At the worship service in the evening, Bishop Provenzano, the Episcopal bishop of Long Island, which includes Brooklyn, gave the sermon, and the spirit of full communion was so strong. It was really inspiring to hear him talk about mutual support and lack of competition between the denominations. It made St. Lydia’s ties to both denominations make more sense to me. Emily led all the synod’s pastors in singing, which was awesome and fun. Everyone loved it.
It was great to see how St. Lydia’s was recognized as the future, not because that makes us special, but because it really shows the synod is open to radical change in how they think about church.