Your NT-NL Synod, ELCA council met this weekend (Feb 5/6) via zoom. On Friday afternoon the Synod Council and Conference Deans met for a “retreat” time of reflection and learning led by the Rev. Wayne Menking.
Recognizing that the time of Covid-19 has created a great deal of uncertainty Wayne walked us through a journey of moving from a familiar place into the unfamiliar future through the use of systems theory and his experiences as a pastor,chaplain, and also leader of the Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest.
It was an engaging, honest, and enlightening time for our leaders to consider how we lead and do we trust that God is with us moving forward. A good time of learning tools for leading and having challenging conversations in anxious times.
Saturday morning the synod council did the business of the synod including authorizing synod council calls, on leave requests, revised budgets for 2021 and 2022, as well as hearing reports and giving feedback. We heard from our ELCA Church Council member Pastor Nick Billardello about the Future Church work and how we are seeking innovation and to be a church that connects with new people in our midst.
In my report I emphasized the good news that is happening in NT-NL, Briarwood Leadership Center, and with our colleagues in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone. That good news of course also is tempered by the challenges we face. So I laid out ways in which our synod staff and leaders are responding through education, listening, and learning as well as equipping new leaders for mission.
Another order of business was to elect a new lay male representative from the Panhandle Conference. We were blessed to have two strong candidates and Lazarath Lopez (St. Paul, Levelland) was elected to a four year term. We are excited and grateful for Lazarath to be a part of our leadership. He has been active in his congregation, brought youth to Briarwood, and will soon graduate from Texas Tech.
Finally we were joined by our Mission Endowment Fund board for a time of connecting and learning. We heard about how the MEF grants impacted communities across our territory in 2020, the grants for 2021, and a report on the good faith loan program MEF established for congregations that could not access a PPP program loan in 2020. Inspiring stories and good news of a new program to assist congregations in talking to their communities about legacy giving in partnership with NT-NL Stewardship team.
Zoom meetings can be tiring so some levity is always good. Our synod communicator Jason’s cat decided to take a nap on his back during our Friday meeting which provided some fun. Also we take regular breaks and to bring us back from a break Jason cued up Sir Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” from the movie Sing! A reminder that after all the challenges of 2020 and now already into 2021 we are indeed still standing.
Grateful for these strong leaders of our church. It is energizing to gather online with them, give thanks and look forward. Our 2021 Synod Assembly registration is live and our theme is “Entrusted.” We are entrusted to be stewards of the mysteries of God and to share the good news with our neighbors. #NTNL #BWTX #InMissionTogether