Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

 Last Friday and Saturday, I attended the Northern Illinois Synod Assembly held at Augustana College.  To be honest, I don’t really do well at these types of events.  I think it really is the fear of the unknown. Will it be a place that is handicap friendly?  What really helped was to have Barb and Dave Kromphardt and Jeff Whalen there to help me navigate things.  For instance, on the first day we had worship service.  There is a “box” on the floor to protect cables for the microphones.  Very important and well-needed.  However, when I tried to go over it last year, I almost tipped over my scooter.  No way was I going to try to do that again.  But Dave made sure someone would come back and give me communion.  Small gesture, great importance.  Thank you Dave.

 My plan is to go through what we did at the Assembly.  I hope that Dave in his letter next week will cover anything I missed. A lot of business was taken care of as well as the passing of 3 resolutions.  I will write about this later.  I want to tell you what happened within the first 15 minutes of the assembly.  Many of the officers of the Synod came up and gave a report to the people assembled.  Lori Whalen was NOT one of them.  However, in a span of 15 minutes, I probably heard her name 8-10 times, thanking her for everything she did to help.  I was so proud of St. John’s.  We were part of her journey that was responsible for her taking the call to work at the Synod.  Everything secular would tell her it was a stupid idea.  She had a great job at LP.  I think she had about 6-years to go until retirement.  She was making almost double the amount that she is making now.  But she answered the call to serve at the Synod office.  She found out there is no age limit for God to call and use you.   Hope you realize this also. We really need to be always receptive to God’s voice.  Maybe giving up secular rewards for heavenly ones.  Always worth it.

 Let me write about the  worship service.  Can’t remember when I was on the other side of a worship service.  It was a moving experience to worship and sing with approximately 300 other people. Bishop Stacie gave a great message.  I find her to be a very special person. I am so pleased to have her lead our Synod.  She casts a  very broad vision to what she and her staff would like to accomplish.  The vision always includes us as pastors, deacons and SAMS, but it also includes you. 

 We had many leaders of committees give their reports.  Two big milestones were achieved by the following groups.  LOMC which is our Lutheran camp is celebrating 50 years of service.  Lutheran World Relief is also celebrating 50 years of service.  Resolution 1 dealt with increasing the Synod’s pledge to this organization.  It was the only item that we voted on that received 100% agreement.

 Reverend Miguel Gomez-Acosta was our keynote speaker.  He is in charge of evangelism for the Churchwide.  It is a word that scares most Lutherans.  He was trying to displace the picture of going to others and saving them.  He stressed that it is God’s work of saving, not ours.  We just need to be authentic and show up.  It went along very nicely with my sermon from Mark about Jesus wanting us to scatter seeds and allow God to do the rest.  He also talked about showing up where the people are.  We should not wait for them to come into our building.  He shared many stories about what he does in Arizona, and how he helps churches across the nation.

 They had a ministry fair after dinner.  I did not attend this.  I heard it was well received.  It was a chance for the ministries of the Synod to show participants what they do.

 The second day was highlighted by the passing of two resolutions put forth by the work of conferences within our Synod.  The first resolution dealt with us(churches) being a reconciling church.  What it really means is when we say, “All people are welcome,” we really mean all are welcome.  The main focus was on the LGBTQIA+ community.

 The second resolution was to condemn Christian Nationalism.  It doesn’t say we want to do away with Christianity (a lot of us would be out of jobs), but we recognize that there are other voices and that they should have a spot at the table as well. It was interesting that a very young man (they all look young) changed the wording to make it a stronger resolution.

 Both of these resolutions passed with over 94% in agreement.

 Unfortunately, as I was at the Assembly, I received a text from Helen Petzing’s daughter that she was in the process of dying.  It was roughly a year ago that we had the funeral service for her husband Richard.  She passed away late Friday night, early Saturday morning.  I am really surprised she made it this long.  This was a couple that loved each other immensely and their lives were so wrapped up in each other.  Sometimes, when I see this, when one spouse passes away, the other follows quickly.  It is like their heart is broken and without their spouse, there is no point to live.  Helen’s funeral will be at 11:00 a.m. this Wednesday at the church.  Viewing will be at 10:00 a.m. before the service.

 Let’s continue to show grace to others.  How about if we believe that most of us are just trying to do the best we can.

 Scatter seed!

 Don’t ever forget who you are and whose you are. You are, yes, you are a child of God.  Alleluia !

 Pastor Tom


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Readings for the June 22nd & 23rd   – 5th Week After Pentecost

Job 38:1-11                 Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32              2 Corinthians 6:1-13               Mark 4:35-41