This note was sent to our NT-NL Synod Council, Officers, Conference Deans and Asst. Deans, on July 1, 2022…
Happy New Year!!! Today, July 1st marks the beginning of your new term year as a member of the NT-NL Synod council. We are so grateful for your service and in particular to welcome the new members to this team who were elected at our 2022 Synod Assembly. One of the grounding principals of the ELCA and our polity is that we are a church not ruled by bishops and clergy but governed by a gathering of an assembly of lay and rostered people, who discern together the direction of our institution and elect leaders like you for this work. This is frankly rather rare in the history of Christian community and is something we should not take for granted.
As we now have new members of the council whose terms begin today please see the attached roster and ensure it is correct. Please do not reply all on this email, if you have questions please direct them to me or the appropriate officer (likely VP Tom Blaney who is Tom@ntnl.org). Please also put September 10th on your calendar for our next Synod Council in person meeting. We will begin at 9am and conclude by 4pm to get you on your way. Deans and asst. deans are welcome but not required to attend. If you need lodging the night before we will send a registration link later in August.
In June I sent some of the information below to the council members at that time. If you got it please read it again because it includes some new information you should be aware of as well. It is vital you are well informed as members of the council…
- Today, July 1st we officially begin new synod council terms for members, officers, and bishop. Please join me in welcoming Janet Kennedy our new synod treasurer and giving thanks for the faithful and strong work of Mark Bradley as he officially has his term ended (although he has committed to help with transition). Also, I am deeply humbled and gratified by the support of the synod in my re-election and take heart that God has called me to work with you all. So as my new term begins I take renewed commitment to this work we do together.
- At our meeting on April 29th we moved to support Walnut Hill with assistance from our Conferencia Latina. On June 26th I and leaders from the Conferencia Latina met with the people of Walnut Hill to discuss what this process will be. This was a critical moment in our lives together and I appreciated your prayers. The people of Walnut Hill who gathered (there were approximately 20 members present) understand the dire nature of the situation, anxiety is high, but I believe our transparent and regular presence with them helps them understand why we must act. The trustees who have been appointed are Mr. Ron Palomares (Christ, Dallas), Rev. Jesus Escamilla (San Gabriel, Alvarado), and Rev. Irma Banales (DEM). They will be moving quickly to meet with the leadership and assess the situation to make recommendations that hopefully the community will agree to.
- You are hopefully aware of the events happening at Briarwood this summer. Unfortunately due to lack of interest the July 7-10 NT-NL Youth event had to be cancelled. However the MYJ2 multicultural event July 21-23rd is on and has over 25 registered at this time and we will be hosting the first ever Latinx Young Adult retreat August 5-6 for which over 40 have registered!!! If you need info go to www.ntnl.org. You should also know that every weekend and many weekdays at Briarwood there is a group either from NT-NL or outside utilizing the facility. If you congregation or family would like to use the facilities at Briarwood please also be in contact with Anna Thompson at email@example.com. Also Briarwood’s board received the announcement that Robert Smith will be stepping away from his position at Briarwood at the end of July. He will be taking a teaching position at the University of North Texas.
- It is good to see Briarwood utilized however, the financial situation continues to be dire due to continual deferred maintenance issues that have accumulated over the last 20+ years. Every time a group uses the facilities at Briarwood the aging infrastructure shows its wear and something breaks or another faulty repair is uncovered. Given these realities facing Briarwood the board is looking at best ways to steward this resource. This includes looking at staffing and also authorizing a conversation with the town of Copper Canyon regarding the use of the Leadership Center building as the town continues to grow. This also includes conversation with a real estate development firm owned by an NT-NL member to gain realistic appraisals of what Briarwood’s options could be as well as get a true cost figure on the deferred maintenance needs of the many different facilities at Briarwood. These are faithful steps to discern what is the best way to steward this resource for the sake of mission across our synod.
- If you have mileage to submit from your travels to assembly please send that information to Jeanne Heggen in our office at firstname.lastname@example.org. The IRS rate for mileage in service to charitable organizations in currently $0.14/mile. We want to be sure to get that to you if you have that to submit.
- Our Panhandle conference voting members have asked if that conference might host our assembly in 2023. We have not been to the panhandle for assembly since 2009. So it is time to go back. Assembly will be April 28/29, 2023 and we need to make that announcement by our next council meeting.
- A word of excitement over a new thing! Our public witness team has desired for sometime to have the funding available to contract with a staff person as convener of that group. Someone who can visit congregations to listen and learn of the concerns and hopes in our communities as well as grow that ministry impact. The exciting news is Mr. Todd Porter (Calvary, Richland Hills) has accepted that role and will be beginning soon. I expect that he will be present with us in September so you will be able to greet him them. To learn more about the Public Witness team see https://www.ntnl.org/ministries/public-witness-team/
Finally, please join me in continued prayer for Pastor Doris Harris. Her health continues to be a source of concern and grief. I am in regular contact with her son Desmond, supporting him and her in this time. She was hospitalized for a time but is stable again. Praying for peace and comfort.