This Friday and Saturday I’ll be at the New England Synod Assembly in Springfield with Vicar Eric and our delegates Aurelio Ramirez and Megan Getman. This annual gathering is a rare moment to experience up close the larger Lutheran church in our part of the country. Our Synod and denomination (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or ELCA) are largely invisible to most of us, but an assembly of this kind brings home our vital connections to fellow believers and the many ways in which we can accomplish together what would be much more difficult by ourselves.
The picture above tells some of that story. It’s taken in the sanctuary of my former congregation in North Quincy. The Synod was there 14 years ago when that church was looking for a new pastor and Good Shepherd church was blessed to get Nathan Pipho who had been an intern in Woburn. That church is now hosting an ELCA mission to a burgeoning population of Chinese immigrants to form a new congregation called Good Neighbor Lutheran Church, pastored by Ryan Lun. It’s only a few miles from The Intersection with Pastor Tiffany Cheney who is forming a new congregation in Dorchester. These amazing endeavors (including internships) require the talent and treasure of the larger church of which we are a part.
At the Assembly we will celebrate these new mission ventures while enjoying spirited worship, warm fellowship and inspired addresses. The keynote speaker is a United Church of Christ pastor from nearby Somerville, Molly Baskett, who helped bring a dying congregation back to life, and wrote a book about it. She will be sharing with us the way her congregation is engaging the old practice of testimony which invites members of the congregation to share their faith stories during worship. Assemblies are ripe for considering new ideas and practices that give life to the church.
I’ve been grateful and inspired to experience the Spirit at work among us in such gatherings. And proud of the role Saint Paul has played over the years to support the New England Synod as one of its strongest and vibrant congregations.