I'm back from synod assembly. I had a WONDERFUL time. It was so nice to get away, even if it wasn't an actual vacation. I didn't have to worry about work, home, or anything. It was great. I picked up the gentlemen who was the male representative for our congregation at 9:30 on Thursday morning. We'll call this gentleman "Tim." Because I have a neon that gets good gas mileage, I drove down there. I was slightly worried that we wouldn't have anything to talk about because he's married with children and he's had a lot of life experiences while I have been fairly sheltered throughout my life. However, we had plenty to talk about on the way down. Well, we got to Springfield and tried to register at our hotel, but check in time wasn't until 3:00 p.m. and we got there about 11:00 or so. So, instead, we just walked over to the Crowne Plaza and got registered. At registration we got a thing that we were to wear around our necks that had our name, congregation, location, and status of "lay" or "clergy" on them. Then, we went to the next table and got some extra information, ballots for the election of our synodical bishop, and some other things. By that time, we were able to go find the room in which orientation was being held. Tim and I went in, listened to the orientation, and left. We found Pastor and the people from Pastor's other church. We'll call them "Richard" and "Verna." Well, we staked out some seats and sat down. We got down to business and all that stuff. After a while, we took a vote for the bishop. Because it's an ecclesiastical vote, we had to take out the ballots and write down who we voted for.
There was quite a bit of business that was undertaken at this assembly. We experienced some great fellowship, inspiring worship; we met a bunch of neat, interesting people, and we had a lot of time to really get to know each other. The assembly lasted from Thursday until Saturday around noon. Our first vote for bishop was declared invalid because after we were "seated" as voting members, more people came in, registered, and then voted. Because of the discrepancy in the number of votes, the vote was declared invalid. However, we did another vote, and our current bishop was reelected. He needed 290 votes to get the re-elect, and he received 294. I'm glad. I think he's done a fantastic job, he's a real personable, funny guy, and I believe he is a good leader. I've met him a few times, and I think he does his best. So, we didn't have to do any more voting for the bishop. Our pastor received 3 votes to become bishop, but I'm glad he didn't win because we're NOT READY TO LET HIM GO!!!! :) I say that because he and his wife have really been a wonderful addition to our community. They've been with us for 11 years and it is slightly because of them that I became a Lutheran. So, Pastor, sorry, but we're glad you lost! He doesn't read this, but I can talk to him anyway. Haha.
Apart from the business aspect of the assembly, there was much else to do. We ate a few times at the Crowne Plaza. The food was excellent. There were forums in which we could partake and learn. Our speaker was a pastor from San Antonio named Ernie Hinojosa. He was interesting. He has an unconventional way of doing things, but he was very enlightening. He held one of the educational forums, so I went to his the first night. The second round of forums was on Friday. I went to the one entitled, "Major decisions facing the ELCA." Because indecisiveness was one of the areas the psychologist suggested I work on improving, I thought that would be a good place to start. It was an interesting lecture, but I don't think it helped me work on indecisiveness at all. Oh well. I learned other things from it anyway.
Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed was the fellowship. Tim is a man I basically only knew from church council and the fact that he and his family usually sit in close proximity of me and Ma on Sunday mornings. I've never really talked much to him. However, because we hung out a bunch at the assembly, I feel we really got to know each other. We shared things about our pasts and about our thoughts on certain things. He's really a cool guy. Also, Pastor, Tim, Richard, and I went to eat. "Verna" wasn't feeling up to going out on Friday night, so it was just us four. We ate at the Red Lobster. It was good to talk to them all out of the church setting. It really fosters the "getting to know you" when you're sitting down for a meal with people. Also on Friday we had a festival worship service that was really cool. There was a jazz type band that played the songs and we had communion and it was just really lively and worshipful. I enjoyed it immensely.
Then on Saturday, we got done voting. There really weren't a whole lot of contentious issues. There was some debate about a few things, but not too bad. We debated a little about a memorial (Something that doesn't involve an "action" per se, but rather works to advise the churchwide unit) that suggested we discipline people who do not follow the rules of Vision and Expectations. We voted against this memorial. It was really close, but the memorial passed. I fear that it will add fuel to the fire by its language. Another thing that was debated was the new youth position in one of the committees. The question was should we or shouldn't we allow people under 17 to serve. Most of my row said we should not allow people under 17 to serve, but I thought we should because generally, kids who show an interest to go are mature enough. However, that was not the case. I'm not too terribly upset because at least they did create a youth position. That is something.
All in all, this was just a fantastic weekend. I truly enjoyed meeting people, seeing people I've already met, the worship, the fellowship, and the bonds I made because of the experience. I'm excited that I might one day be in a vocation that will allow me to partake in this event every year. I saw the pastor who conducted my initial interview. She apologized for waiting so long to send in my paperwork. I told her not to worry about it, and she said, "no, I should have sent it in. I just want you to know that it's not anything about you that made me wait so long. The paperwork just got lost and I didn't get around to it." I appreciated her apology, but I understand that she is a busy woman. It did make me feel better that she said it wasn't anything about me that made her wait so long. I had wondered about that. I might write more about my experiences there, but not now. This has been a long post, and I need to go get ready to go have dinner with a friend. Blessings!