Each year, the New England Synod of the ELCA meets to hear about and tend to the ministry of the church. This year’s Synod Assembly took place June 6-8, 2024 in Worcester, Massachusetts. This month’s article will be a brief overview and some highlights from this event.

The assembly had over 400 voting members, and over 500 in total as reported by the credentials chairperson. We attended the assembly and worship services with these people from across the country as the guests table included visiting bishops and seminary representatives. The church is bigger than we sometimes realize, and 500 people singing “Be thou my vision” is an experience.

Plenary sessions included a lecture on the Gospel of Mark from Rev. Dr. Mark Allan Powell, Bishop Hazelwood speaking about his time as bishop, and the candidates for bishop discussing their hopes for the church based on their experiences and perspective. We also heard from Portico, Thrivent, and Camp Calumet.

Hard truths and harsh realities were named. Congregations have gone through Holy Closure—several just this year. We named each one in prayer. Church practice and attendance trends have changed over the last decade, but most noticeably in the pandemic. These trends have not fully reversed.

In the same space, there is hope—generosity abounds. Over one million dollars was raised by the New England Synod for ELCA World Hunger and Lutheran Disaster Response combined in 2023. LCOR’s own contributions to World Hunger were part of that significant impact.

We also acknowledged that the work is not done. There is still much for us to do as individuals, as a congregation, as a synod, and as a church. Topics addressed included world hunger, outreach, the work of anti-racism, and the situation in Palestine and Israel, which happens to be one of our Synod’s companion Synods in the worldwide Lutheran Church.

Several workshops were offered, and each of the LCOR representatives went to a different one. I attended “From Youth Group to Youth Network.” As the title suggests, we talked about the advantage of collaborative partnerships and networks—an approach that draws from our own experience of what it is to be more widely connected to the church. For example, I go to conference meetings, Synod Assembly, Convocation, and events at neighboring churches from time to time.

Finally, we elected a new bishop. After five ballots, a lot of reflection, and a lot of prayer, Rev. Nathan Pipho is our New England Synod’s Bishop Elect. His term begins August 1, and I encourage you to watch for the announcement about his installation service on September 7 in Worcester.

You’ll probably take a few things away from this overview of the Synod Assembly, and I know I haven’t covered nearly all of it. If you’d like to know more, please visit the Synod Website: Whatever you remember, I hope you’ll hold on to this, too:

You are part of the church. This church is a church that stretches across New England and reaches around the world. This church is working in specific, concrete ways through individuals who show up and have the conversations and serve the meals and rake the lawns and hold open doors and donate to causes and proclaim the Good News.

This church is doing so much already, but there is still work to do as we move to a better realization of God’s family, God’s community, and God’s hope. We get to be part of that. We are part of that, so we lean into the work, and we journey forward.

Thank you to our delegates, Loni, Pastor Sarah, and Alice, for representing LCOR at Synod Assembly!