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.