It was Pentecost this past weekend, and we were all gathered together in one place (at least most of us!) This was the 30th annual Synod Assembly, and we celebrated. Our theme was "Promote Unity," one of our Synod's five benchmarks. We heard from a number of ministries in our Synod and ministries our Synod supports.
Dr. Michael Trice of Seattle University was our keynote speaker and got us to think about unity in new ways. Mr. Bill Horne, Vice President of the ELCA, brought the Churchwide report, and Mr. John Lohrmann brought greetings on behalf of the ELCA Church Council. Ms. Paulina Dasse also greeted the Assembly on behalf of Global Mission. Bishop Michael Warfel of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings brought greetings to the Assembly, and noted the many ways that Lutherans and Catholics are cooperating in this 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.
Workshops are always a popular part of an assembly. Our workshops this year included: Small Congregations, Disaster Preparedness; Human Sexuality; Islam; Children and Mental Health; Refugees; Accompaniment; the Future of the ELA; Generosity; Women and Justice.
Worship in such a large group is always a high point of an Assembly. On Thursday's opening worship Dr. Kathryn Schifferdecker preached and Pete's Little Big Band played dixieland jazz music as congregations processed with their statements of intent. Sunday's Pentecost worship was enhanced by the reading of the Pentecost story in Spanish, Arabic and Hmong. Our Assembly offering went to Intermountain.
A highlight of the Assembly was on Saturday when everybody moved to the site of our new building, ate barbecue, and got a look at the progress and met the Mission Builders. It was a wonderful way to make the project more real, as Assembly-goers had a chance to write their names and Bible verses on some of the lumber used in the building.
Thanks to all the volunteers, the staff and the participants in the 2017 Montana Synod Assembly!
Personal note: my daughter is getting married this weekend.
Jessica Crist, Bishop
Bishop Jessica Crist
Bishop of the Montana Synod of the ELCA