On June 9-10, 2017 the Northwestern Minnesota Synod Assembly took place at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Under the theme, “Risky Business: Always Reforming,” 425 voting members and 44 visitors and presenters gathered to observe the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, celebrate “risk-taking” Lutherans throughout history, and ponder what kinds of bold risks God might be calling us to take in 2017.
The keynote speaker was the Rev. Dr. Mark D. Tranvik, Professor of Religion at Augsburg College, who gave three brief presentations on risk-takers like Martin Luther, Katherine von Bora, and Robert Graetz. Ms. Molly Beck Dean, Director of the ELCA Youth Gathering, offered the ELCA Churchwide report. In his report Synod Bishop Larry Wohlrabe reflected on his ten years of service to the synod, and he also announced that he will not be available for another term as bishop when his current term ends in 2019.
Five resolutions were passed:
- Two resolutions amended constitutional provisions and bylaws of the synod.
- Another resolution memorialized the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly to amend the ELCA Constitution to remove the requirement that the ELCA Conference of Bishops approve every Letter of Call to non-stipendiary service that is issued by a synod council.
- The fourth resolution repudiated the European Christian-derived “doctrine of discovery” that was invoked to justify European settlers taking over lands that were already occupied by indigenous peoples. This resolution also committed the synod to seek closer relationships with tribal communities in northwestern Minnesota.
- The fifth resolution memorialized the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly to amend the ELCA Constitution to expand the criteria for allowing synods to authorize theologically-trained laity to offer Word and Sacrament ministry in appropriate parish settings.
Assembly participants had the opportunity to attend eleven breakout sessions on topics like: the Campaign for the ELCA, cultivating a culture of call, the Declaration on the Way agreement with the Roman Catholic church, how to use “narrative budgets” in congregations, a preview of the 2018 ELCA National Youth Gathering, and affirmation and hospitality for the LGBTQ community.
The Assembly elected two new officers: Pr. Karla Mickelson as Synod Secretary and Catherine Dickey as Synod Treasurer. Elections to the Synod Council, Discipline Committee, and Consultation Committee were also made.
The next synod assembly will take place June 8-9, 2018 at Concordia College, Moorhead. The theme will be “Pursuing Reconciliation,” and the keynoter will be Dr. Lois Malcom of Luther Seminary, St Paul.