A LETTER FROM THE COUNCIL PRESIDENT
To the congregation,
On June 8th and 9th I had the opportunity to attend the Northeastern PA synod assembly with my wife Lorrie and Vicar Heydt. It was my first time to experience the assembly so I found it very interesting. It’s a mixture of mundane activities like voting on delegates and officers mixed with some very uplifting presentations and worship opportunities. Here are a few highlights.
There were two services over the course of the meeting with the messages having similar themes. Bishop Zeiser communicated a real understanding of the challenges that all churches face from dwindling attendance, to attracting younger families, to financial concerns. There are ideas out there to help, however there are no easy fixes to some of these challenges. His emphasis was to not to let this get us down. We need to keep our eye on the ball and remember what we are asked to do, spread the gospel and serve others. He challenged us to do the most with what we have.
There was an emphasis on the mission work that the synod has done in Argentina. A pastor from Argentina attended the assembly and spoke about the poor conditions there and the work that we have done to make a difference. He stressed how fortunate we are as Americans to be blessed with abundance. There was also a vote to accept into the ELCA a local Berks County church called the Hmong Community Church. The church members are Laotian and approached the Lutheran church to affiliate as they felt their worship approach was similar to being Lutheran. The vote carried unanimously.
Lastly, there were two other very positive reports. The United Lutheran Seminary (a merger of Philadelphia and Gettysburg) has a reported a huge surge in new students, roughly 100 between the recent spring and fall semesters. This was driven by offering full tuition scholarships. Students still pay living expenses but many were burdened by undergraduate debt and could not afford Seminary without this help. Another area of growth is Bear Creek camp. Attendance has surged in recent years and many new cabins have been built. There were approximately 40 counselors from the camp at the assembly. It should be a great experience for the four youth we will have attend camp there this summer.
If anyone has questions about the Synod Assembly please let me know. Have a great summer!
Joe Arndt, Council President