Synod Assembly 2023: RENEWED IN CHRIST

Our Florida Bahamas Synod of the ELCA met in assembly in Orlando last week. Our two pastors, Chaplain Cindy Hershberger and Cindy Johnson were in attendance along with 206 active pastors, 239 retired pastors and 187 lay representatives. The theme for this year, Renewed in Christ, calls us to remember we are Christ’s body and his presence in the world. He makes all things new!

The main agenda item this year was to elect a bishop for our synod. Bishop Suarez was re-elected as bishop on the first ballot. That means he received over 80% of the votes! When he was elected for his first term, he hadn’t even considered running, but someone else nominated him. He reminded those attending the assembly for the first time that someone in their congregation nominated them to be part of this decision making body.

A review of the expenditures and budget shows how our mission support is affecting real lives and congregations, not just here in Florida, but across the world. The Synod tithes to the national churchwide body as well as supports Young Adults in Global Missions. For those of you who remember the now Pastor Steve and Amy Winsor, their daughter, Mary is going as a YAGM to Mexico City in August for a year.

Highlights from the Financial Report:

* Through the ELCA, we at LCC help support global missions. The ELCA spends just under $ 2 million to support 131 missionary households in 54 countries!

* Through the ELCA, we at LCC help support churchwide ministries. The ELCA spent just under $1 mil in 2022 on these ministries.

*The Florida-Bahamas Synod spent about $1 million in local disaster relief, from the hurricanes that hit Florida so hard in 2022. Other synods across the US sent money, volunteers and supplies to join in relief and rebuilding efforts.

*Five new ‘churches’ were started across the state, including Spanish-speaking congregations, a ministry for the deaf, and re-imagined church.

* Following the holy closures of two churches, the synod sold the properties and designated the funds for a new grant program.

New Grant Program: Vision 2 Action

This new program has five main goals: Promote Intentional Diversity, Sharing Christ, Developing Healthy Leaders, Making Disciples and Doing Justice. For this year, the V2A team will be dispersing $600,000 to fund projects and ministries in our congregations and communities. We at LCC will be exploring ways we can participate in these goals and impact our community.

Worship happened each of the three days we were there. And I can tell you, hearing 400+ Lutherans in song was inspiring! We went to do the synod’s business and we came away inspired and renewed!