2019 Synod Study Conference

This year our annual Alberta and the Territories Synod Study Conference featured keynote speaker, Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis. She is the Marbury E. Anderson Chair in Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary and she previously taught at Candler School of Theology, Columbia Theological Seminary, and Augsburg College.

She is the author of John: Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentaries(2014).

In addition to addressing matters of biblical exegesis, sexism (according to the study of one scholar, only about 1 per cent of all the people in the Bible are women, and many of them either do not speak, speak only briefly, and many of them are unnamed), racism, a canon within the canon, reading and studying the Bible with the awareness of one’s own built-in biases—Professor Lewis challenged conference attendees to be more aware of what we believe about the Bible, how we read and interpret it (hermeneutics), how we prepare sermons and preach on them.

Professor Lewis also presented her exegesis of the Johannine story of Jesus and the woman of Samaria in chapter four. She encouraged those who read, study and preach on this pericope to pay attention to the details of if not each word, at least each sentence in the story. For example, the text says in verse four: “But he (i.e. Jesus) had to go through Samaria. Why did Jesus have to go through Samaria? At the time Jews and Samaritans were not exactly on friendly terms. Indeed Jews avoided travelleing through Samaria and the Samaritans if they at all could. It is clear by looking at a map that Jesus definitely had at least two options in travelling back to Galilee—he could have taken a route along the coast or he could have crossed the Jordan and travelled on the east side of Samaria. Yet, he had to go through Samaria. Of course, one reason for that was to widen the scope of his ministry; to become more inclusive by welcoming women as well as men, non-Jews as well as Jews into his realm.

In addition to Rev. Dr. Lewis’s presentations, we enjoyed hearing from other presenters and had opportunity to reconnect with colleagues informally, as well as worship together.

Below is a photo of our Synod’s women clergy as well as a few visiting from other Synods and Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis.

Alma mater & church convention

From June 19-21, I attended our Alberta & the Territories Synod Convention at Camrose, held on my alma mater-then Camrose Lutheran College, now Augustana campus, University of Alberta. Those who are convention aficionados know that they can range from exciting, surprising and inspiring to boring and divisive and everything in-between. As a seasoned convention attender, I wouldn’t say this was the most exciting one I’ve ever witnessed, nor was it the most boring-rather, it was somewhere in-between. The most upbeat aspects of the convention for yours truly were: i) re-election of our bishop, the Rev Dr. Larry Kochendorfer on the first ballot; ii) the music and worship services; iii) the opportunity to visit with other colleagues and former parishioners whom I hadn’t seen for some time; iv) the keynote speaker, the Rev. Dr. Alan Roxburgh of the Missional Network, addressing, among other things, the new paradigmatic direction of Christendom in terms of what it means to be “missional,” and where God is leading the Church into the future and possible changes needed to be a part of that journey. Below are a some photos I shot of the ever-changing face of my alma mater campus.

New Performing Arts Centre to open this October

New Performing Arts Centre to open this October

Library with the young Luther statue in foreground

Library with the young Luther statue in foreground

The young Luther statue

The young Luther statue

Sign

Sign

Front shot of Luther statue

Front shot of Luther statue

Classroom building

Classroom building

Glen K. Johnson Faith & Life Centre

Glen K. Johnson Faith & Life Centre

Founder's Hall-in my day it was referred to as Old Main

Founder’s Hall-in my day it was referred to as Old Main

A wheelchair accessible elevator tower will be added to one end of Founder’s Hall.

L-R Colleagues: Rev. Ron & Rev. Dr. Gary

L-R Colleagues: Rev. Ron & Rev. Dr. Gary

Both colleagues helped carry some of our books for the book exchange table at the convention.

Colleague Rev. Howard & delegate Phyllis

Colleague Rev. Howard & delegate Phyllis

Re-elected Bishop Larry

Re-elected Bishop Larry

Synod banner

Synod banner

Elements of creation from each of our Synod Conferences

Elements of creation from each of our Synod Conferences

Synod delegates at work in session

Synod delegates at work in session

Another highlight of the convention was the celebration and recognition of those pastors who have served in the church for 25 years, 40 years, 50 years and 60 years. There were 10 clergy celebrating their 25 anniversary of ordination; 7 clergy celebrating their 40 anniversary of ordination; 6 clergy celebrating their 50 anniversary of ordination; and 3 clergy celebrating their 60 anniversary of ordination. I had the opportunity to chat briefly with the Rev. Barry Lyall, who was one of the 60-year clergy. I was amazed at his health and resilience, he told me that he still enjoys serving as a pulpit supply pastor.

 

ABT 2008 Synod Convention

Alberta & the Territories Synod Convention: June 5-8, 2008

Our church – synod convention is now history. I’d encourage readers to check out the synod blog created by a pastor and an intern reflecting on each day of the convention over here. You can also check out their blogs here and by clicking on Kevin Powell on my blog roll. I appreciate their commentary and add a few observations as well:

  • Many (most) of us lament the reality that we are a divided church. We have not been able to reach a consensus on same-sex blessings, nor are we likely to do so in the foreseeable future. At its roots, this is a very complex issue (For example, are people born homosexuals or are they socialized to become homosexuals or do they turn to homosexuality because they have been sexually abused?) some are tired of it and wished it would go away; while others are still trying to learn more and respond appropriately to it.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed the workshops by Pastor Kevin Powell on blogging and Social Ministry Coordinator Joyce Zutter on Creation Stewardship. Kevin’s blog is well worth the visit not only for his content, but also for ideas on how to improve the quality of one’s blog re. layout and presentation. Joyce’s presentation certainly challenged most of us as to our daily habits and how we either contribute to the ongoing pollution of our planet or become more responsible as caring stewards of creation.
  • I was inspired by the music during the worship services, as our congregation is musically challenged. I love to learn new hymns and liturgies.
  • There was also the fun, stress-relieving event of packing safely as many people into a Smart Car as possible in two minutes to support campus ministry. There was a three way tie, each of the three winning teams packed in nine persons. I was on one of the winning teams! The Good Samaritan Society Team. Thanks to the folks in campus ministry for sponsoring and organising this event. I’m sure it will be a popular one at future conventions.
  • The times of table fellowship, including the banquet, and celebrating the ordination anniversaries of our pastors were also opportunities to affirm “the communion of saints,” (and, of course, the shortcomings of sinners)!
  • Our convention demographics indicate we are an aging synod. Looking at all of the grey heads during our convention sittings confirmed this truth. Where are our younger folks? Next convention I do hope there is a more diverse demographic representation.