So if I’m a day late does that mean I have to do Saturday Six? Some weeks that could be super easy to do but only writing this post (and your reading it) will we know if I make it to Six. Over at RevGalBlogPals we are challeged to think about Spring the Friday Five author writes this:
Woohoooo! I wore sandals this week and my toes didn’t go numb!! That’s how I know winter is really over. For this week’s Friday Five, tell us 5 things that let you know “Spring is here!!” In your part of the world.
I’ll pop by to visit your blogs later. Be sure to leave a link in the comments.
1. The Easter Bunny appears:
2. The sound of sniffles from people all around are a sure way to tell Allergy Season has begun. If you have no one around you talking about allergies I bet someone has been known to post it on Facebook about how horrible the pollen count is today. (Allergies are real and by no means am I trying to belittle their annoyance on ones life – just stating that with spring often comes allergies).
3. Speaking of Pollen — my new Kale Green Kia Soul looks a little yucky this week.
4. My dog and my boy seem to play outside every moment possible. As soon as homework is done my littleman is outside playing away. So the sound of basketballs and soccer balls prevail at this house, not to mention the constant desire to play gold and ride his bike.
5. The dog woods bloom (yup I got photobombed to)
6. Indeed I have another. It’s bubble blowing season:
Day 2 of synod was a day packed full of discussions in small groups in slightly larger small groups, elections, discussions of resolutions, casting ballots, greetings and all the other things that typically happen when the body of Christ gathers together to discern their direction for any length of time and for Moravians in the Southern Province of the Moravian Church in America that happens to be every 4 years. The pictures to the left reflect what we spent most of the time doing sitting in plenary session listening to our partners in ministry bring greetings or resolutions being read and discussed.
The good news is that’s not all we did. We meet in our pilgrimage groups (small small groups) and our characteristic groups (slightly larger small groups) twice. The characteristic group that I’ve been assigned to is growth. So we spent several hours today talking about growth in relationship with numerical growth within our churches. We used creative ways to get us talking about where we are now and where we might be in 8 years.
In the where we are now we used a technique known to many as mind mapping. Which is a fancy name to saying using both picture and words answer some questions (or at least thats what it meant to my small group). Since we were talking about growth we used a tree as our structure and the limbs where words or phrases that defined aspects that are relevant now to Church growth – specifically looking at the culture that surrounds the church. We were instructed to not make it a list of problems or to problem solve. Easier said than done. Then as we gathered our three small groups together we shared our mind mapping with each other. And it was interesting how common threads where seen throughout the conversations.
The next time we gathered we were called upon to be even more creative as we looked at where we will be in 8 years — we were encouraged to dream to think out of our abundance and not out of our fears. Then we were given creative license to find a way to share it with the our three small groups when we gathered. Our group did a sort of skit/drama as a newscaster from our 24 hour Moravian Network interviewing a board from a growing and thriving church. We laughed and we played together and I mentioned after all three groups had taken their turn that it’s great to think out of our abundance. It makes laughter easier, it draws us closer together and it reminds us of our common purpose. One of the small groups made use of the term magnetic church and I loved it….who doesn’t want to be the church that can attract new members and new mission opportunities. The term Magnetic doesn’t seem to come with the baggage that perhaps Mega Church does.
Now back to plenary session – we had several elections but it is significant to note that The Rev. David Guthrie was re-elected to a 4 year term as Provincial Elders Conference (PEC) president on the second ballot and we elected 3 clergy reps to the PEC on the first ballot. Now the task ahead is to elect the lay people to fill the remaining positions. We also decided to elect 1 Bishop and the first ballot was cast. No results of that have been shared with us.
During plenary session tonight I was at times distracted by the beautiful sunset that graced my view, so in closing I share some of the pictures I took of that.
I am grateful to God for allowing me the great blessing to serve as pastor in such a church. Thanks be to God!
My morning got off to a good start as I took the opportunity to ejoy the peace and quiet before the masses ascended. I went off to the playground with my hot chocolate in hand and spent some time in prayer – a mixture of me talking and me listening. There’s just something about swinging that puts me at ease kinda free flying.
Following my swinging and moments soaking up the presence of God, I was off to help lead the New Delegate training session. I had prepared for it last night but I wasn’t sure how it would work it self out. I was surprised when I counted that there were about 50 people in attendance. With the help of the co-chair of Delegate prep as well as the folks from program I think the 45 minute gathering that we had went well. Did every delegate get completely orientated to the process — I doubt it — but then again I’m not always sure that I’m completely orientated.
Next came opening worship and our first plenary session – you know the times when you sit through the roll call of delegates and vote of some intial resoultions that need to be taken care of before the rest of synod can convene.
What was significant in the first pleanary session was the State of the Church address. Rev. David Guthrie president of the Provincial Elders Conference (PEC) spoke about the challenges that the church faced as well as the joys and celebrations that certain parts of the church were experiencing. He said “we are making a difference in the world and for that we give thanks”. Indeed there are many parts of every church and the Moravian Church Southern Province where ministry is happening and Christs love is being shared. We should celebrate those things because in my opinion we spend far to much time and energy focusing on the conflicts and struggles and we loose sight of the places where God is truly at work. He ended his State of the church address by saying that so often we get bogged down the seven last words of the church “But we’ve never done it that way” when instead we should be saying the seven first words “Let’s try it and see what happens”. So let’s see where the spirit is leading us in these next 4 years!
Then guess what happened — it was dinner time and fellowship and food where in abundance. Moravians love to eat so eat we did. Following dinner as we headed back down to the main meeting hall we were greeted with the beautiful sound of the brass band playing – such a gift to remind us of Christ’s presence with us and that it is Christ who called us to this place to make decisions for his church. We then had another plenary session where we used our fancy electronic key pads to vote for several agencies and boards, we had some spots filled but many we will need to cast other ballots in the morning.
Lastly we went to our small groups and then meet with 3 other small groups to discuss our thoughts as a larger Characteristic group based on the 8 characteristics of a healthy church. The group I”m in is Growth. David in his state of the church address even stated that most churches in the past 4 years that have been through reviews has said growth is their greatest weakness. Tonights focus on growth was Where have we been? I shared that when I was growing up a bus would pick up the neighborhood children and take them to Sunday School and church. Great evangelism really because once you get the child involved and passionate about something who follows — the parents. In the end we agreed that traditions, music and relationships are what has helped us to grow in the past. And I venture to guess that those things are going to be what helps us grow in the future. I think often we sell ourselves short — the Moravian church worldwide has great things to offer and to do.
When our small group merged with 3 other groups I saw similar threads that it was relationships that brought people to church and its what keeps them there – it helps them claim church as their home.
So now I’m back in the room and ready for day 2! Today was a great day and I could sense God’s presence from my time on the swing to the time I took my shower. Thanks be to God for a great first day and i know tomorrow will only be better.
You remember the childhood game of hide and seek when the seeker yells “ready or not, here I come”! I kinda feel like that tonight as I lie in bed listening to the sounds of my fingers click on my keyboard and hearing the faint sounds coming from the woods that surround me here at the Blue Ridge Asembly Center in Black Mountain North Carolina. You see what some 200 folks are going to say come 9 o’clock or so tomorrow is “ready or not we are here” and at 1:30 worship will call us to order for the Moravian Church Southern Province 2014.
Many people have given countless hours to preparing and putting into place all the details of this synod. We’ve been meeting for months, before synod 2014 was even on most peoples minds never mind their calendars the synod planning committee began to meet and as our tasks grew and we needed advice and skills from others we drew them into the fold to help prepare for this important time in the life of the church that I love so much.
I’ve learnt in my ministry that you can’t be prepared for everything but that God holds the church in the palm of his hands. Everything will work out in God’s time and in a way that can only be perfectly crafted by a God who loves the church but also loves the people of the church.
So I try to leave my worries, fears, anxietites and imperfections at the door and let the spirit of God move among us. Jesus will indeed continue to lead us into the the next 4 years and beyond! I humbled to have been given the opportunity to serve the church by being on the planning team for this synod. So when folks come through the door tomorrow with that “ready or not here we are”, I will greet them with a hug and say welcome brother and welcome sister. Please join me in prayer for the Moravian Church in America Southern Province Synod of 2014.