Dear Partners in Mission:
On April 24th we held our annual synod assembly. Once again, as in 2020, we utilized technology to gather, do business of the church, learn, and connect. I was very pleased to see the strong turnout for this second online assembly and for your participation throughout the day. Of particular note were the breakout room sessions after each of Bishop Mike Girlinghouse’s presentations (which are now on our website: https://www.ntnl.org/resources/videos-embracing-gods-future-without-forgetting-the-past/). In feedback from assembly participants it is clear you enjoyed that time together and perhaps even wished it were longer.
Prior to the assembly we sent a survey to each registrant to ask for information and feedback on how their congregation responded to the pandemic. Over 40% of registrants responded to the survey (a good rate of return for a survey) and we received much information that will help with planning for future synod events and continuing education offerings. The responses were honest (sometimes brutally) about the challenges you all have faced. When asked about online worship one respondent stated “I hate it!”
Overall however, the responses indicated that our congregations and leaders have been resilient, responsive, and adaptive in this time. And that you are continuing to realize you are going to need to be so into the future. I was most encouraged by the “word cloud” above created from the responses to the question “What is the most important thing you have learned about your congregation in 2020-2021?” In these open responses the words that appeared most often indicated connection, adaptation, and the strength and resilience congregations have shown in the past year. We will continue to need that strength and resilience as we move forward. Recognizing that we are still in this storm of change and pandemic and that we are, with the rollout of vaccines slowing, even moreso weathering it in different boats.
Thank you to all who attended our assembly and for the planning team and the hard work so that we could meet. With hope we look to 2022 and gathering in Dallas at Paul Quinn College April 29-30th. Bishop Vashti Murphy-McKenzie will be our preacher for that assembly. But before that remember to have September 11, 2021 on your calendar for a synod gathering at Briarwood. In hope we believe by then we will be able to re-gather together in person and be renewed and revived.
In the Risen Christ,
Bishop Erik Gronberg