The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
We are all learning much about our inter-connectedness in these days of the COVID-19 pandemic. What is good, wise and salutary for the health of the communities in which we live needs to be foremost in our actions, as we work together to slow down the spread of this coronavirus.
With that in mind and in response to a recommendation from the ELCA Presiding Bishop and Secretary, the Synod Council of the Saint Paul Area Synod met in special session on Thursday, March 19, and acted to reschedule the 2020 Synod Assembly from May 15-16, 2020, to September 25-26, 2020, at St. Andrew’s Lutheran in Mahtomedi.
This means that the election of the Bishop, Secretary, at-large Synod Council members and members for several Synod Committees will be postponed until then. The term for the Bishop will begin on December 1, 2020, which is the period of time between an election and the start of a new term as prescribed in our bylaws. All other newly elected persons, as well as those elected at Conference Assemblies in February, will begin their terms at the adjournment of the Assembly in September.
New deadlines for the submission of resolutions, assembly materials and registration for the September 25-26 Assembly will be announced in a few weeks. The retired clergy caucus, originally scheduled for April 13, will be rescheduled when it is safe for larger groups to gather in person. It is our hope that everything we planned for the May Assembly can occur in the fall as the urgency of the pandemic lessens.
The Synod Office has also moved to a rotating staffing model with only two persons a day in the office and with new office hours of 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. This arrangement will be reviewed at the end of March. All meetings are now being held by phone or Zoom. Staff are working at home and are reachable by phone or email.
It was only about a week ago when the World Health Organization named this viral outbreak a pandemic. We know that communities around the globe are also taking steps to slow its spread. This includes our global mission partners in Tanzania and Guatemala.
The practice of working from home, keeping physical distance from others, and learning to worship with others in new and digital ways are as new for me as they are for you. And yet, I know that over the centuries the human community has been challenged often in the midst of crisis and calamity. In times of natural disaster, war and political hardship, Christians turn out to be resilient people, who find creative ways to care for neighbors and to draw strength from God’s promises. St. Paul was one of the first to remind us of God’s constancy, writing - “… may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways.” (II Thessalonians 3:16)
Bishop Patricia Lull