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  • Synod Activities...

    The 24th Annual Assembly
    Of the Florida-Bahamas Synod
    May 5-7 2011

    George and I left home at about 8:00 the morning of Thursday, May 5. We encountered several obstacles on our way to the Omni Resort in Orlando. It started to rain shortly after we got on to Interstate 95. It came down hard, but not for a long time. Several more miles and we saw a smoke alert sign. We were cautious but we never did see any smoke. Soon after we stopped for breakfast, Very unexpectedly, George and I were hit by the love bug. Not just one Love Bug, but thousands of them. By the time we reached the Omni, the front of our white car looked black. None of these obstacles keep us from reaching our destination as we kept right on going with "all boldness."

    George and I thank Ascension, once again, for allowing us the privilege of representing them at the Synod Assembly. This has been the second time we have attended the Assembly.

    The first session of the Assembly was called to order at 4:00 p.m. Bishop Edward R. Benoway chaired this and all the sessions. There was an average of 500 people in attendance including voting, nonvoting, youth and clergy. The adoption of the agenda and rules were approved, and then the Nominating Committee presented the nominations for Council Secretary and several Synod Council Representatives. There weren’t any nominations from the floor so the nominations were closed.

    Bishop Benoway made several introductions of important visitors attending the Assembly. He also honored Pastor William Yesse, who was retiring after serving 16 years as Synod Council Secretary.

    After a closing prayer and hymn the session was closed at 5:15 p.m.

    After dinner, we attended the Opening Eucharist. This service was very moving and very inspirational. The sermon was given by Bishop Benoway on the Gospel of the doubting Thomas. The music “rocked” the room as the Holy Spirit surrounded us. It was a wonderful ending to a wonderful day.

    Friday we were up with the birds. Opening worship was at 8:30 and the second session of the Assembly was called to order at 9:00.

    Ballots were passed out and a vote was taken for the Synod Council Secretary and the Synod Council Representative.

    It was announced that during the opening Eucharist the night before, $3,085.00 was collected. This money will go for Immigration Outreach Ministries.

    The Together In Mission ministry presented two of the seven grants at this session.

    Pastor Ruben Duran was the Keynote Speaker. The topic he spoke on was Connecting with Community. I feel that Ascension does very well connecting with our community. We are a welcoming church. We also give lovingly and willingly to the Community Caring Center throughout the year. Pastor Duran said sometimes we can compare our churches with a gas stations. People only come by when they are empty and then they complain about the prices.

    The Bishop then gave his report. He also gave recognition to the anniversaries of all ordained clergy. The oldest was 97 this year and although he was not in attendance, the Bishop wanted us to know he was still up to date with technology, having an iPad and an iPod.

    We closed session two with a hymn and prayer.

    After lunch, session three opened with prayer. First order of business was the distrbuting of a ballot to vote for two female council members serving a one-year term.

    Pastor Duran than gave the report on the ELCA Churchwide Organization. After Pastor Duran, the Vice President of the Synod Council submitted her report. Also, the Outreach Ministry, the Outdoor Ministry and the Older Adult Ministry each submitted reports.

    One interesting report stated that as of April 2011, seven hundred and seventy one churches have taken a vote to leave the ELCA. Five hundred and fifty three passed that vote. Four hundred and sixty nine took a second vote and 444 passed. It was also stated in the last two years there have been 120 new churches join the ELCA and 320 are under development.

    Session three was closed with hymn and prayer.

    Session four, the final session for the day, was opened at 7:00 p.m. Again, Pastor Ruben Duran was the Keynote speaker. He was very good and very enthusiastic. He spoke of mission work and told about a pastor in Philadelphia starting the Welcome Church with homeless people she met in the subway.

    There was evening worship after the session closed.

    Saturday was another early day. Session five opened at 8:30. The Treasurer gave his report and resolution for the year ending 2011. The Treasurer reported congregational giving was down 15 percent. It is at its lowest level since 1988. The Synod has had to eliminate several major positions and also reduce its contribution to Mission Support and the South Seminary to make the budget be in the black. After three years the staff of the synod finally did get small raises.

    The last of the Together in Mission grants were handed out. In total, throughout the assembly, there were seven grants given for a total of $58,940. There is $32.000 left in the grant fund. This fund relies on private and church donations. Grants are given to churches in the Florida Bahamas Synod to fund causes. Some of the grant money went to purchase a car for the church in Haiti.

    There were ministry reports by the Youth Ministry and also WELCA. I gave information on WELCA to Nancy Fengfish.

    After the close of the session we had the closing Eucharist.

    There were several resolutions brought before the Assembly. To summarize:

    Resolution 11-1 was to establish two-year term limits for Conference Deans and Chairs. Passed

    Resolution 11-2 was urging and supporting ministries to and with the homeless. Passed.

    Resolution 11-3 was to adopt the revised year end January 31, 2012 and proposed year end January 31, 2013 Ministry Spending Plan. Passed

    Resolution 11-4 was urging congregation support for the FBS diakonia program and other leadership and lay education ministries. Passed.

    Resolution 11-5 was calling all church expressions to speak and act to prevent bullying, harassment and related violence. Passed.

    Resolution 11-6 was to give guidance and provide flexibility to the Synod Council in planning for future assemblies. Passed.

    Resolution 11-8M was the 2011 ELCA churchwide assembly to declare a moratorium on social statements. Defeated.

    The results of the elections were as follows:
                Synod Secretary — Michele A. Hilton
                Synod Council Representatives —
                            Karen Combs
                            Rev. Keith Spencer
                            Todd David Anderson
                            Jose Perez
                            Judith Bunker
                            Lynda Mack

    All the details on the resolutions and elections have been passed on to Carole Greenich

    I would like to close with this blessing...

    Life is short and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who make this earthly pilgrimage with us. So be swift to love, make haste to do kindness, shower abundant hospitality on friends and strangers. Walk in justice that you may follow the path of mercy and love.
                                        (Attributed to Henri Frederic Amiel)

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