God has a plan… We’re it!

2009 SEPA Synod Assembly

We are God’s FACE in the world today

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This year’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod Assembly celebrated its presence as God’s FACE in our communities and the world. Update: links to video presentations below the fold.

“We are God’s incarnational presence, the very Body of Christ, the hands and feet and FACE of our Lord,” said Bishop Claire Burkat as she unveiled the results of the year-long discernment process that involved nearly 2,000 people across the synod. It represents four strategic directions that emerged:

  • Faith formation
  • Faith in Action
  • Connecting and communicating
  • Equipping and developing

Four Circles of leaders have intentionally gathered to prayerfully explore mission in each of these strategic directions utilizing the inspiration that they have received from the comments received through the 2008 God’s Parties held throughout the synod.

Faith formation

We have heard God’s call to deepen and engage our faith asking us to:

  • Deepen our spirituality so that we can engage the world…
  • Realize that the word “Christian” is really a verb and not a noun…
  • Study Scripture so we learn of God’s awesome power and love and then translate our experience into love and justice for others…

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Faith formation: Chris Turner and Pr. Leslie Richard dramatize “head and heart” spirituality; Pr. Regina Goodrich presents “passionate spirituality.”

A lively presentation by the Faith formation circle represented what can happen when there is an engagement of heart and head in the process of faith formation igniting both passion and spirituality. God calls us into a relationship with him that unites both head and heart.

“Out of this relationship emerges effective ministry, individually and collectively,” said Pastor Regina Goodrich of Trinity, Germantown. “This is what you’re asking for—information to assist you with this process.”

Faith in Action

We have heard God’s call to share Christ with the world in love and in action:

  • We must be Christ’s hands and feet here on earth and reach out to our brothers and sisters in whatever their needs may be…
  • Always be open to all the different kinds of people who make up God’s world…
  • Feed the poor. Create peace in the world…

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Faith in Action: Pr. Tricia Neale gives an overview, “Batman” and “Robin” highlight the work of the Synod Green Team; Pr. Bill Erat pitches “Green Love in Action.”

The Faith in Action circle acknowledged that in order to accomplish all that the participants in the God’s Parties suggested the Synod would need a super hero to multiply our efforts in new and creative ways. One area that was highlighted was the SEPA Green Team which is actively engaged in encouraging all congregations to practice good stewardship of creation in their local settings.

“God’s dream is about the new stuff we’re not doing yet,” said Pastor Bill Erat, Liberty Lutheran Services.

Connecting & communicating

We have heard God calling us to reach out to all people, especially young generations:

  • Tell the story to all of God’s people – not just the ones we feel comfortable with.  Move out of the comfort zone and into the evangelization zone…
  • Proclaim God’s Good News in a manner that our children and youth relate to – Internet, TV, text messaging…
  • Let go of habits parading as traditions in favor of fresh and creative expressions of community, worship and outreach…

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Connecting and communicating: Pr. Stuart Luce describes challenges facing connecting churches, Josh Kelly demonstrates Facebook.

“How do we make connections with Jesus happen in the world today,” asked Pastor Stuart Luce of St. James, Limerick, part of the Connecting circle. “In my community there are a lot of Wawas. If one learns something, they all learn it. They connect, cooperate and learn.” We need to do that same kind of connecting in the church in which we connect, cooperate, and learn from each other in mission and ministry.

The Assembly was offered a demonstration of the ease of connecting over Facebook where you can become a fan of Bishop Claire Burkat.

“Social media is flattening and widening the world allowing us to be more tightly connected,” said Bob Fisher, assistant to the bishop for mission interpretation.

Equipping & developing

We have heard God calling us to equip and empower for evangelical outreach in the world:

  • Share and speak of the “Good News” in all walks of our lives – not just in the church building and pews – but everywhere speaking the language of the people…
  • Be open to change. Engage in ministry in new ways using new paradigms…
  • We need to be taught about the generational differences in our society between boomers, busters, mosaics, etc. and learn how to speak the languages of the generations…

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Equipping and developing: Pr. Mary Konopka on leadership training, Pr. Nancy Wiseman on new models of church, Pr. Chris Franz on transformational leadership.

The presentation by the Equipping circle tossed several trial balloons onto the floor of the Assembly representing the directions that they are seeking to develop within the synod. They included developing workable leadership training models to train lay and clergy; develop processes by which congregations can engage in self-assessment that will empower them to see themselves as visitors do; engage in transformational leadership; and identify and creative models for emerging missional needs.

“Wherever you are connecting with other congregations Christ,” said Pastor Nancy Wiseman of Emmaus Road Lutheran Church in Levittown-Fairless Hills.

Voting members in this year’s Synod Assembly were invited to connect in conversations with each other in small groups on each of the FACE strategic directions as they explored the areas that ignited their passion for ministry.

How can you be God’s FACE in your community? How can you be God’s FACE in the world today?


Video presentations

Bishop’s Introduction

Faith formation part 1
Faith formation part 2
Faith formation part 3

Faith in Action part 1
Faith in Action part 2
Faith in Action part 3
Faith in Action part 4

Connecting part 1 — excerpt: What do you want people to know about Jesus?
Connecting part 2
Connecting part 3

Equipping part 1
Equipping part 2
Equipping part 3

Bishop’s Address: Wrap-up and charge

Categories: bishop - News - video
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