Grace, mercy, and peace be with you all from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Have you ever wondered how the church is run? How are decisions made and who makes them? I think for the common person in the pew these questions, and others like them, are not running through their minds on a regular basis. But yet these are important things to know when one is part of a church community.
When it comes to the running of the church this takes three distinct forms for our church body. The church is run on a local level (the church councils of English and St. Luke Lutheran churches), on a regional level (the Eastern North Dakota Synod), and on a national level (the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).
Most of us are very familiar with how the church is run on the local level. The church council meets on a monthly basis in order to take care of everyday business of our congregations. When there are bigger issues to be discussed, ones that should include as many voices as possible, we gather for congregational meetings, usually happening once a year, sometimes more if absolutely necessary.
As for the regional level of how the church is organized and run, a few of you reading this may be familiar with. Some of you have gone to the annual Synod Assembly where all churches in the Eastern North Dakota Synod gather, by way of their delegates, to discuss and vote on matters that affect the majority, if not all, the churches in our Synod. The Synod has a council as well that also meets on a regular basis ensuring that the month to month business of the Synod gets taken care of.
When it comes to the national level, however, I would bet that there may only be a select few of you that have ever experienced how the national church is run. Instead of holding an annual meeting like our local church, and regional synod do, the national church holds a triennial assembly to conduct the business that pertains to the national church as a whole, the collective churches that make up the ELCA. As with the Synod, the National church also has a council that oversees the month in and month out operation of the church, but it is at these assemblies that happen every three years where the majority of the how the church is run takes place. It is here that the delegates from each of the synods that make up the ELCA gather in order to elect new leaders, vote on key issues that face the national church as a whole, adopt a three-year Budget Plan, and most importantly, to worship together as a united church body.
At this year’s triennial Church-wide Assembly I have been given the honor of serving our national church as a Rostered Voting Member at the Church-wide Assembly, helping to represent the Eastern North Dakota Synod. I will be flying down to New Orleans, LA in just a week’s time, August 8th-13th, in order to serve in this way. This is an experience that I have never had before, but is one that I am really looking forward to.
This year the main focuses of the assembly center around the election of a new Vice President of the ELCA, the highest office a lay person can serve in for the National Church. Also we will be discussing things like what Theological Education for our church will look like in the future, a call to repentance and repudiation of the Document of Discovery that ended up hurting the native people of this land for centuries, as well as many other issues as well.
But just because you yourself are not going to be able to be in attendance in New Orleans at the beginning of August, does not mean that you are unable to be a part of what is happening at all. One of the biggest ways that you can be involved in this Assembly is by praying for the Assembly and those who are gathered there, including myself. Pray for the church and its leaders to seek out God’s will above all else as we try to conduct the business of the National Church to the best of our abilities. If assemblies like this is something that might interest you, you can watch it online by following the live stream from your computer by going to http://www.elca.org/ChurchwideAssembly. On this website there will be a link for you to click on to access live video and audio coverage of what is happening in New Orleans.
We are coming up upon an exciting time in our church. I am thankful and excited that I get to be a part of it in New Orleans and it is my prayer that you all will join me during this exciting time through prayer and the live stream if that is something that interests you. I look forward to when I get back with you all to share with you all my experience.