As mentioned this past week, I was in Canmore at our synod’s Pastor’s Study Conference. The guest presenter was Michael Foss of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville Minnesota. He was excellent. He talked about renewing the church: from “membership to discipleship.” While it might have easy to dismiss him and his church as being irrelevant to our context because his numbers are massive for a Lutheran church, but he showed how his method was used in small rural settings as well as inner city churches and suburban parishes.
But the best part for me was the fellowship and the time to get away. Since I’m new to the synod I had the opportunity to meet all sorts of new folks. Of course, the dominant topic of discussion was Same Sex Blessings. Some people put a moratorium on The Issue, but it came up in almost every discussion.
My former bishop, Michael Pryse of the Eastern Synod spoke for a bit during the bishop’s hour. After a couple soft ball pitches he was blunt with the crowd, “Don’t you have any questions about human sexuality? I know you have questions, so ask them!” The Eastern Synod has been designated a “Reconciling in Christ” synod by Lutherans Concerned, despite the fact that the ES has not adopted their statement of welcome. Their Synod Assembly last year passed their own, but similar statement, that broadened the welcome beyond GLBT’s. So they were placed on the list, which has been a cause of concern from conservative elements within the ELCIC.
Bishop Steve talked about the farm crisis. Not just the fall out from BSE or Mad Cow, but the whole farming industry in Alberta. He shared with us a report of a meeting that took place in Medicine Hat between Canadian and American farmers. All Lutheran. He said that the gathering was very productive, dispelling myths on both sides and brought reconciliation between people sharing similar struggles.
But if I walked away from the event with one essential learning it is that there are good people on every side of the issue. I had meals with some of the most conservative pastors in our synod as well as the most liberal, and I experienced both of them as caring, faithful, and generous people who honestly want what’s best for the church.
So, it was a great event. Good things are happening in our synod and wider church. Which gives me hope for the future.