St. Andrew Lutheran Church
Friday, May 24, 2013
Jesus Calls Us…Come and See! Come and Grow! Come and Serve!
Bridging differences better than building walls
by Steve Ranney, synod assembly voting member from St. Andrew
The mutual dependence between faith and work came through loud and clear during the Southwestern Washington Synod Assembly held May 18-19, 2012 in Vancouver.
The synod assembly is a multi-faceted event with teaching, business, workshops and worship times. Together they make up a rich experience of a larger church, which is inter-dependent, mutually supportive and serving together.
The assembly theme, Sunday Worship Meets Monday Work, was evident during the opening session’s conversation between Gov. Chris Gregoire and Robert Hofstad, the synod’s bishop, as they talked about vocation, public service and the common good.
In explaining how she makes necessary and painful budget cuts, Gregoire, a Catholic, said she strives to “look behind the numbers, at the faces.” She described herself as a “servant leader” with a clear emphasis on servant first and leadership second.
The theme was continued with David Swartling, secretary of the ELCA. Drawing from his career including years as a submarine commander, lawyer and lay church leader, Swartling stressed the importance of interdependence and relationships to others as key to exercising a Christian vocation, whether involved in church activities or in the workplace.
Bishop Hofstad led a Bible study on Christian vocation and helped people visualize the various “offices” we occupy — father, mother, employee, manager, friend, parent, student or neighbor. In some cases, we might find ourselves not fulfilling one office adequately because of another office’s demands, as when long hours at work hurt family time.
The interdependence theme was apparent in the 91 congregations of St. Andrew’s synod as well as 64 synods in the ELCA and 4 million baptized members worldwide.
Particularly in mission outreach, interdependence is lived out through seven new ministry starts our synod supports. One is Federal Way Chinese Fellowship, which reaches out to international students and others. The mission serves authentic Chinese meals to students from a nearby community college, offering them a place to gather, worship and enjoy great food.
Resolutions passed at the assembly included amendments to the constitution to streamline some committee assignments; allowing for biennial (every other year) synod meetings at some future time; support for the ELCA malaria initiative; support for electronic notification, and, if it is consistent with one’s conscious-bound beliefs, to support the Marriage Equality Act in our state.
Bishop Hofstad announced that he will not seek re-election next year and noted some things he has learned during the past 12 years in office. They include how easy it is through careless words or actions to fracture relation-ships; it takes only one person to make a change for the better or for the worse in a congregation; congregations and individuals with a single agenda rarely yield healthy results; and care for the poor is a constant and never-ending struggle that we must keep before us.
The St. Andrew delegation to the assembly included Vicar Matt Anderson, Pastor Jim Stender, synod council member John Jablonski, and our voting members: Lori McDonald, Karen and Steve Ranney, and Mary Strehlow.