Metro-New York Assembly is on my mind

Well! We’re just two days away from The Metropolitan New York Synod’s Annual Assembly! Are you excited? I am excited. And to start the whole thing on Ascension Day – that’s neat. I’ll be attending this year (third time in four years) and will be up for a slot as the young adult representative to Churchwide Assembly in next year. So, please vote for me. I am young, I consider myself an adult, and it’ll be awesome. I’d love your vote!

I spent the last few days reading the synod reports and, I must say, I have enjoyed the juicy bits. If you are reading them, you can just feel the anxiety peeling off the page. People are anxious and worried. The Synod is gearing up for its own Strategic Plan and will also be voting on a base definition for what it means for a congregation to be viable. The synod is struggling and it shows. And, as an institution, there are problems. But it’s also exciting too. Maybe I’m a little too punk rock, young, or too much a seminarian, but I honestly think this is a great, exciting, challenging, and difficult time to be part of the church. It’s not going to be easy but, honestly, why do we want it easy? That’s just…well – that’s just too boring. What follows below are some of my thoughts on various random pieces listed in the reports.

We get to vote via electronic button this year! WOOOHOO. I’ll miss the green/red cards (because I always like telling the world where I stand on certain things) and we won’t get a serpentine (alas). But hopefully votes will go quicker and people will let themselves vote for or against certain things depending on their conscience rather than on what they want to appear to be supporting.

2012/2013 Proposed Budgets:
The $30,000 dollar drop for Communications and $80,000 drop for the Bishop’s Office is interesting. I have no idea where those cuts are coming from or what they’ll be used for but those (and the slashing of the Global/Multicultural mission budget in half) might stem from the recent resignation of Gary Mills. I’m sure that will come up at the Assembly and I’m curious how that will go over. I am glad, however, that we’re cutting back (a little) on using the sale of property to fund operations but it’s still three-quarters of a million too high.

Synod Council Reports:
I wish that all the passed resolutions could be found online so that I learn about what’s happening sooner rather than later.
Also, I’m glad that the focus on campus ministry was taken up and championed.
How nice is the apartment they’re building in Greenpoint that they claim is worth $2k a month? I get by on a lot less – I’m just saying. 😉
Anything with St. Lydia’s is just good news.
We lost three churches to other church bodies. I wonder where they went and why (though I could guess).
And I take it that the Synod has basically taken the work of prior multi-cultural focused bishops and decided to just shut that thing down?

New Process to Elect A Bishop:
Our next bishop election is in two years but there’s been thoughts that the process should changed. Instead of the usual wait-to-the-synod-assembly-then-run-around-wild, the model pushed for in a resolution is for a “search committee” based approach. I like aspects of it but a) I think 7 candidates is excessive and b) after some conversations, I’m curious about how this model works for an incumbent bishop. Does that bishop just become another candidate? Would it make more sense to have a vote-of-confidence on the bishop first? I’m not sure how I think about this but it’s possible that this resolution can’t be amended and, if that’s the case, it might be voted down.

Bishop Election Committee:
Not much to say about this except the whole “we’ll pull names out of a hat to determine who is on the committee Acts 1:21-26 style)” is either really ballsy or completely ridiculous. It’s really easy for the committee to become entirely one sex or one ethnicity and that would make the committee just “look” bad even if it was an incredibly effective group. If we’re going to use a search committee model, then there needs to be elements of trust ingrained into the nature of the committee itself. It has to look like it is fair, partial, trustworthy, and worth being listened too. If not, then we’re gonna have problems.

Congregational Viability Norms:
In the proposed ten guidelines for how to determine a viable congregation (Page 14 in Section B), I’m for it. I’m for it though I quibble over what “call a pastor” means (i.e. full time, quarter time, what?) I did love seeing my old pastor write a response to some questions another person had. I’ll miss his voice at the assembly this year!

MNYS Staff Reports:
I have nothing to say but, well, check out Pastor Jonathan Linman’s because WHOA – he tells you everything he did and he did a lot. I hope I never have to write out my own docket like that because it would be embarrassing to look at.

Conference Reports: (a conference is a regional group of churches with one pastor elected as dean)
Reading these can seem rather depressing. Many seem to show that clergy are struggling with uniting together and that there are some conferences that probably won’t exist in a few years. However, there is vibrancy and life in many places and that’s always great to see.

MNYS Committee Reports:
I have nothing to add except that I was named dropped on page 54. BOOYAH.
Well, scratch that, I do have something to add. I’m kind of getting annoyed at the characterization of my generation – the millennials. I’m not sure what’s bugging me about it, exactly, there is something that just doesn’t sit well with the whole thing. I think part of it probably has to do with my own experience as a millennial who did not group up Lutheran, or in any church, and I am now on the track to ordination. I am not the millennial that they are describing or are worried about. I don’t, necessarily, need to be included in everything but it makes me think that when people talk about my generation (even my own peers), no one has any idea what they’re talking about.

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