Last Saturday rostered and lay leaders from around the synod gathered for a day of mission and ministry planning.

This is the fourth year synod leaders have met in this way.   In 2011, the Synod Assembly voted to transform traditional committees, task forces and work groups into networks to allow as many people as possible to participate and serve where their particular passion was leading them.
The change was inspired by recommendations from Living into the Future Together (LIFT) Report to the 2011 Churchwide
Assembly which recommended the church use digital media and develop flexible networks to “increase collaboration and connections across this church.”

“LIFT helped us see that networking people who are
passionate about a wide variety of ministries allows us to include more people
and tap new energy for the mission of the church,” explained Bishop Steven
Ullestad in a May 2012 article in The Lutheran.  “Creating the networks has opened new doors for more synod members to participate in the ministries and has already reduced costs associated with attending meetings in person.”

The September Leadership Event has become something of a Synod Rally Day, a time for networks to meet together face to face, review their core values and purpose and set goals for the year.   The rest of the year they communicate through
email, telephone conference calls, Skype and Facebook.
This year synod networks who met were Care of Creation, Companion Synod Hungary and Namibia, Disaster Response, Home Life, Global Mission, Hunger, Stewardship, LYON (Lutheran Youth Organization Network), Hunger, and Men’s Ministry.  The Compensation Committee which is a traditional synod committee and Life-Long Learning for Lutherans which is a self-sustaining ministry also met.
Each network relates directly to the Synod Council through a Synod Council liaison who is part of the network.  An unexpected result from this new structure is that “Synod Council is more fun,” observes Bishop Ullestad.  “Because Synod Council members are now part of a network, they are more directly involved in what is going on in the synod.”Because all of the networks meet together on this one day there is the opportunity for members of one network to run across the hall to network with other networks.  This year Home Life and Hunger came together to work on an educational display for the 2015 Synod Assembly.

While some people do miss the social aspect of getting together in person on a regular basis, the new structure has proved to be very popular and has taken hold in our synod.

 

The change has not only helped cut expenses but has made it possible for many more people, who could not always commit to drive a long distance every month, to participate.  The ability to be flexible and communicate when there is a need rather
than on a fixed schedule has also helped spark creativity and allow networks to respond to needs as they arise.Bishop Ullestad talks about Synod Networks

 

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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.

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