This past weekend the Saint Paul Area Synod gathered for our annual Synod Assembly. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with one another in worship and fellowship, conduct business, and celebrate our global and local relationships. It was a great reminder both of the life that we enjoy, together in Christ, and our common call to accompany all of our neighbors - near and far.
During the Morning Plenary on Friday, I was invited to present a report on behalf of the Iringa Committee, its Chair (Kirsten Levorson), and the Bega Kwa Bega companion synod relationship at large. The presentation included highlights of the last year, a reminder of the accompaniment values that shape how we do what we do, and video greetings
from Pastor Msigwa, General Secretary Chavalla, Dean Elect Sagga, and Bishop Elect Gaville. A copy of the written report that was included in the Assembly Booklet can be viewed here
I closed the presentation with a story about mutuality and the ways in which our companions describe their relationship with the people of Saint Paul not in parental terms but as siblings - leaders and communities of faith that have grown up beside one another over the past thirty years. Following that, I spoke about sustainability and thanked those assembled for the gift of Administrative Fees.
Yes. You read that right. We said thank you for the Administrative Fees that were instituted by the synod meeting in assembly as part of the reorganization of Bega Kwa Bega in 2013.
From the perspective of congregations, I spoke about the support that those fees enable the BKB program team to provide - with year round representation in Iringa that ensures more accurate and timely reporting back to all of you. From the perspective of the Iringa Committee, they have allowed for greater precision in budgeting and planning. We finished fiscal year 2016 in a strong position, have built our reserves to a healthy level, and are now better positioned to make intentional investments toward our strategic goals - such as offsetting the cost for the 14 young adults from the Iringa Diocese currently participating in our inaugural BKB Young Adult Immersion Trip with 4 of their peers from Saint Paul.
Even more, at the Synodical level, as the BKB relationship becomes more self-sufficient it has allowed the Bishop's Office to redirect funds to domestic mission
and public witness
efforts of the Saint Paul Area Synod. Careful readers of the synod's budget adopted at the assembly will note a decrease in the level of direct synodical support for Bega Kwa Bega. This does not reflect a lack of interest in this relationship; rather, it is an indicator that the structural changes in funding and programmatic operations are doing their job. Speaking on behalf of the Iringa Committee, we see this as a good sign and celebrate God's abundance that allows us -the people of the Saint Paul Area Synod - to faithfully and robustly participate in God's mission among our neighbors abroad and at home. Exciting things are happening all around as God's Spirit continues to stir.
For all of this... For all of you, for all of our neighbors, and for the One who created us all...
Let us give thanks.
The Rev Peter Harrits, Director of Bega Kwa Bega and Assistant to the Bishop