Build Us Up, Lord!
Thank you to all who planned, attended, and participated in our assembly this year. Beginning with worship on Thursday, June 4, our synod gathered for prayer, conversation, deliberation, and inspiration under the theme, Build Us Up, Lord! What follows here is a report of our time together – please use it to tell the story of our time together to your congregation and faith community.
We thank the Rev. Ruben Duran for being with us as the Churchwide representative, who helped us to see the challenge and opportunity in our rapidly changing contexts. Pastor Duran serves as the Director for New Congregations in the Congregational and Synodical Mission Unit of the ELCA, and has been a great support to our mission starts in New Jersey.
What a Spirit-filled worship time! Thursday evening we gathered for a festival worship service with Holy Communion and Rite of Ordination. The Revs. Ryan Paetzold (Holy Trinity, Audubon) and Don Egan (Jersey City Waterfront Community) were welcomed into our ministerium, and Bishop Bartholomew served as preacher and presider.
Friday morning we began with Morning Prayer led by Mr. Jason Wylie, youth member of synod council. Friday afternoon saw the assembly join together in the Affirmation of Baptism which surrounded the necrology report. Pastor John Mack, member of synod council, led the affirmation. Holden Evening Prayer provided a reflective and peaceful end to our banquet on Friday evening.
Saturday began with an early service of Holy Communion led by Pastor Maristela Freiberg, Director of Evangelical Mission. Pastor Ruben Duran served as the preacher.
Our assembly included Sending Rites for those traveling to the Bosnia International Servant Trip, Washington, DC Senior High Trip, ELCA National Youth Gathering and those going to other places in service this summer. The entire assembly was affirmed in living out their Christian vocation in the world as the assembly concluded. Songs and prayers (led by synod council members) were interspersed in our business sessions.
We thank our band for their gifts and music leadership throughout the assembly!
We adopted three resolutions that guide our life together:
Concerning the Heroin Crisis in NJ. We resolved: “that congregations of the NJ Synod be encouraged to engage in forms of education and outreach to those affected by the opiate crisis…” The full text of this resolution contains helpful information and ways to live out this commitment.
Concerning the Use of Solitary Confinement. We resolved: “that the Bishop of NJ Synod and congregations be encouraged to contact Senator Lesniak’s office and the offices of their own State Senators and Assembly Persons to voice support for the “Isolated Confinement Restriction Act”. The Bishop will be sending a letter later this week and encourages you to do the same.
Concerning Ongoing Support for the ELCA Malaria Fund. We resolved: “that the New Jersey Synod and its congregations shall continue to raise funds and generate awareness in the future through ELCA World Hunger” which means that our efforts will not end just because the official campaign will end in 2015.
The following people were elected to serve as leaders of our synod:
Vice- President -- Mr. Arundel Clarke (Resurrection, Hamilton Square)
Secretary – Ms. Cassandra Mack (Redeemer, Jersey City)
From Mission Districts:
Rev. Ramon Collazo
Ms. Haydee Colon Hernandez
Mr. Nelson Estrada
Ms. Jane Tomney*
Ms. Shirley Blankenship*
Ms. Janet Kuebler*
*indicates incumbent elected for a 2nd term
Rev. Dean Brown
Mr. Chauncey Wreh (youth)
Voting Members to the 2016 Churchwide Assembly
From Mission Districts:
Mr. Wayne Olsen
Ms. Debra Goidel
Ms. Lynn Perry
Mr. Arundel Clarke
Mr. Eric Kim
Rev. Karen Bernhardt
Rev. Mona Fitch-Elliott
Rev. David Stoner
Ms. Ella Peterson (youth)
Mr. Ray Collazo (young adult)
Ms. Cassandra Mack
Ms. Karen Kelly, DM
Mr. James Harris
Rev. Sara Lilja
Rev. Annemarie Cook
Thank you to all of those who were willing to stand for election as leaders in our synod. Congratulations to those elected!
ALL ARE ONE IN CHRIST: CONVERSATIONS ON RACE
The assembly broke into small groups for guided conversations on race and racism. Using a Responsive Listening Bible Study and Key Understandings from our social statement Freed in Christ, participants engaged in meaningful discussions about the place of race in our society and in our church as well as our personal experiences with racism. You are encouraged to continue the conversations as well as undertake concrete actions that will work to dismantle racism in our world.
2016 SPENDING PLAN
We adopted a spending plan for 2016 that anticipates $2,443,424.00 in income from all sources with expenditures on ministry to match. This plan affirms sharing 50% of our mission support income with ELCA Churchwide ministries.
Time was provided on Saturday morning for participants to attend a forum of their choice from the following offerings:
Do Ask-Will Tell (Questions and Answers about the LGBTQ Community)
The Three R’s: Refugee – Redefining Welcome – Reform
Shaping Public Opinion
Heroin Crisis – The Church’s Response
Gifted, Generous, Resilient, and Missional
Discipleship Academy – Build, Grow, Go
Changing Church for a Changing World
Mission Possible – Partnership, Potential, Prayers
God Alive in Young People!
LoveStruck: Race, God, and our Future
A Conversation on our Spending Plan
SAYING THANK YOU AND GOODBYE
At our banquet on Friday evening, we said thank you and goodbye to our bookkeeper, Beth Peroni who is retiring. We also honored our synodical officers who are completing their terms of office: Mr. Tom Kull, Treasurer (11 years), Rev. Christine Regan, Secretary (4 years), and Dr. Dianne Browne, Vice-president (8 years). We appreciate and give thanks to God for raising up these faithful leaders among us!
BY THE NUMBERS
We had a total of 494 people registered and present at the assembly. The number breaks down this way:
Lay under 30 25
Lay officers 2
Associates in Ministry 6
Diaconal Ministers 2
MARK YOUR CALENDARS! Our 2016 NJ Synod Assembly will be held May 6-7. Location to be determined