In this together
Last weekend, along with a few other folks from St. Paul, I attended the Southeastern Iowa Synod Assembly at Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines. As Lutheran Christians, we believe the church is much bigger than one congregation. This is what we mean when we say, “I believe in the holy catholic church,” that God has knit us together with Christians of all places and times.
Though we don’t always display the kind of unity Jesus longs for us to have when he prays, “that they may all be one,” in John 17, we belong to each other, and we share a common witness. We ought to share life and ministry, not just with other individuals in our congregation, and not just with other congregations in our town, but with Christians everywhere. We have synods (and denominations and councils of churches and worldwide federations and so on), because we believe we are called to be together. No Christian is an island and neither is any congregation. One of the hashtags used on social media by those who attended the assembly was #inthistogether. We really are.
For some, this makes me a church nerd, but I love gatherings like the Synod Assembly. The work we do together means we have some business to take care of. There were votes on synod council members, a few resolutions, and a budget. Some years, the assembly votes on big stuff, like electing a bishop. There are forums, too, where we can join together in conversations about all sorts of topics related to church and ministry.
But my favorite part is the opportunity to nurture relationships with colleagues and make new friends. I’m still pretty new to the Southeastern Iowa Synod, but already I notice lots of familiar faces at events like these. Those faces come from Clinton and Iowa City, from Maquoketa, Muscatine, and Des Moines, from right here in the Quad Cities, and all sorts of places in between.
I made some new friends last weekend from Holy Redeemer Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids. I already knew their pastor, Pat, but I got to know Mike, a sheriff’s deputy, and Amber, who works at a daycare. Of the four of us, none were born Lutheran. One was a Badger, another came from the Land of Lincoln, and, I, of course, am a Hoosier by birth, but there we were, because of God’s grace, called by the Holy Spirit to strengthen one another in faith and ministry here in the lower right quadrant of the Hawkeye State.
–Ryan Bailey, director of faith formation