The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canadas (ELCIC) Synod of Alberta and the Territories (ABT) met for their biennial convention May 24-27 at the University of Alberta, Augustana Campus in Camrose, Alberta. Over 200 lay and rostered delegates, along with visitors, guests and volunteers, came together for four days of worship, business and fellowship.
The convention began with opening worship on Thursday evening. ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson preached and ABT Synod Bishop Ron Mayan presided.
In her sermon, Bishop Johnson challenged delegates to ask themselves whether they are acting like pre- or post- Pentecost disciples. "Are we hiding in the safety of our own buildings, our own churches, talking only to each other?" she raised. "Or are we out in the world trying to communicate with people who dont speak the same language and who need and want to hear the good news of Jesus Christ?"
Bishop Johnson confessed that within the ELCIC we have been far too much like pre-Pentecost disciples and urged delegates to consider the call to spiritual renewal (pray, read, worship, study, serve, give tell) as a way forward to living as post-Pentecost people. "The reality is that community, and church, can sometimes be a challenging place," said Bishop Johnson, "particularly if we tend to believe that everybody ought to understand and see the same way that we do."
Bishop Johnson noted that she felt this was part of the Spirits design, "forcing us to encounter one another not as demanders, but as grateful recipients of the gifts of the Spirit manifest within each one of us."
Special guests at the ABT Synod Convention included Bishop Eduardo Martinez of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Columbia and his spouse Yamile Varon, and the Principal of the Colegio CELCO school in Sogamoso, Zulma Ojeda.
Addressing synod delegates, Bishop Martinez shared his perception that the church in Colombia is like a daughter of the ELCIC through its missionaries.
"As good children we like to give honour to our parents," noted Bishop Martinez as he presented a gift to Bishop Mayan and the synod.
Following the presentation, the two church bodies renewed their covenant agreement. ABT has had a companion synod agreement with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia since 2003.
Throughout the convention, delegates had the opportunity to hear presentations from Turtle Award Nominees. To move forward, turtles need to stick out there necks. They need to emerge from the safety of their shells and become risk takers to live healthy, thriving lives, notes the award materials. The Turtle Award is presented to an individual or ministry for its innovative and creative approach to taking a risk in the Kingdom of God.
This year’s recipient was Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Bowness. Shepherd of the Hills hosts weekly Wednesday night dinners and serves over 65 people a hot homemade meal. The church is in its fifth year of serving the community of Bowness and surrounding areas.
Rev. Hilde Lorenz, pastor at Shepherd of the Hills, accepted the award. "This award is a significant achievement not only for Shepherd of the Hills but also for the whole Bowness community," said Rev. Lorenz. "It is amazing what we can do when we all work together and reach out to those less fortunate."
Turtle Awards were voted on by synod convention delegates. Significant agenda items before convention delegates included motions on structural renewal.
At the ABT Synod Convention, delegates approved motions which will see them develop amendments to the Synod Constitution and Bylaws in order to implement aspects of restructuring, especially in regards to synodically recognized ministries, areas, electoral regions and synod conventions; conduct a test project by provisionally implementing some of the aspects of the Synod Implementation Team’s restructuring plan with regards to areas and area leadership teams, and present a feasibility report to the 2014 Synod Convention; and continue to look for opportunities for ABT to work together with the British Columbia Synod. Delegates did not have a motion before them at this convention to consider amalgamation with the British Columbia Synod.
Also as part of the business of synod convention, Rev. Tim Posyluzny was re-elected as chairperson for the synod and Brenda Visser was re-elected by acclamation as secretary of the synod.
The ABT Synod Convention concluded with a closing worship service on Sunday morning. Bishop Mayan preached at the closing service and National Bishop Johnson presided.
All five ELCIC Synods will meet in convention in 2012. The next Synod Convention taking place will be the Saskatchewan Synod Convention which meets June 1-3 in Yorkton, SK.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 145,376 baptized members in 594 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.
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