The good people of the Northeastern Iowa Synod again assembled for a time of worship, fellowship and business.
The theme this year was Renewal through Education, with Philip Melanchthon as our featured reformer.
We are nearing the end of our six year focus on renewal through heroes and heroines of the reformation. This theme has included Jan Hus and “Bold Leadership,” Elizabeth of Hungary and “Service,” Martin Luther and “The Gospel.” Next year we will center on home life with Katie Luther and we will end in 2020 with Joannes Bugenhagen and parish life.
Philip Melanchthon was a teacher at heart and so it is fitting that we learn more about him this year and explore the role education plays in renewal.
With two colleges, a seminary, a state university campus ministry and a church school in our synod, Bishop Steven Ullestad declared in his sermon on Friday night:
“No one can question our commitment to renewal through education,”
. He also pointed out that education takes place in many ways. The way a child learns faith in the home is just as important as academic degrees. “We teach one another and grow both with academics and life experiences,” the bishop pointed out.
On Saturday morning we heard from Pastor Louise Johnson, President of Wartburg Seminary, as she preached for Morning Worship. She reminded all of us that we are called by God.
Our call depends upon God and God’s gifts, not our own abilities or inclinations.
Dr. Timothy Wengert was our Keynote Speaker and he gave a presentation called “More Lutheran than Luther: Philip Melanchthon and the Educational Reformation of the Church.” It was a good reminder that education has always been at the forefront of the Reformation Movements.
We heard about our partnership with the ELCA churchwide organization from our representative, the Rev. Heidi Torgerson-Martinez, Director for Global Service. She leads the team that recruits, calls, trains and supports some 230 ELCA missionaries in nearly 50 countries. She also preached at our closing worship. Her stories of her experiences with brothers and sisters across the border illustrated meaning behind our Gospel story about Jesus proclaiming that our family is everyone who does the will of God.
There was plenty of educational opportunities with more than 20 forums and workshops offered at three different times.
The topics ranged from Confessions, Transforming White Privilege, Companion Synod, Digital Ministry, Women and Justice Draft Statement, Stewardship, Safe Policies, Disaster Response, Youth and Children’s ministries, AMMPARO Welcoming and many more.
On Saturday night Kris Meyer, principal of St. Paul’s Lutheran School, Waverly, shared wonderful stories of how their school impacts the students and the community. Kris was also our Registrar and would often quiz us when she gave her registration reports.
There was uplifting worship and robust singing.
There was our Sunday Morning Bible Study which is always a favorite.
And of course, probably the most popular feature, was the time we dedicate to sharing stories of what is going on in our ministry settings.
This year the focus was on education and again there were many inspiriting stories of how renewal is taking place in our congregations and ministry settings.
It was a packed weekend that was both tiring and renewing and hopefully those who attended will return with fresh ideas and renewed commitment to mission.