Synod 2019

Being at Synod is much more engaging than reading through the agenda, or watching deliberations live-streamed. First, there are colleagues that I have not seen in a while, but not a lot of them, as most colleagues are now younger than me. There are professors and denominational employee’s and fellow board members that have served ministry and boards long and well, who remember your name and where you came from. They ask how you are doing, and how is your family and how is ministry going. They genuinely care. Delegates get divided into committees that do a lot of the hard lifting in bringing motions to the floor. Our committee dealt with an overture asking Synod to speak into the Middle East conflict between Israel and Palestine; two overtures addressing climate care and Synod’s report in 2014; the “heresy” of Kinism and similar thought; and a report on “the Abuse of Power.” These are not the kind of conversations we casually have around the coffee table, in the lunchroom, or have in small groups, because they seem so complicated, and polarizing. At the same time, I am proud to be a member of a denomination that believes these issues to still demand a voice. Just because some conversations are difficult to have, does not mean we can ignore them. Here we find ourselves trying to solve the world’s problems and realize we are part of the problem. I too have participated in abusing power and been abused by power. I too have engaged in national pride and racial humor and ridicule at the expense of others. I too have contributed to the abuse of creation, and not changed lifestyle habits to fight climate change. Before I attempt to solve this world’s problem, I need to confess I’m part of the problem. And here is where our confessions and contemporary testimony, and synod remind us, Our World Still Belongs to God. We speak of healing and hope against abuse of power; We speak of repentance and renewal against national pride and systematic racism. We speak and pray into the suffering and violence and injustice in the Middle East, calling for all sides to work towards a real and everlasting peace. Our highlight was approving the ordination of 42 new seminary graduates, listening to foreign delegates bring their greetings, liturgies and services of worship, praying with delegates and for ministries, churches, agencies, and our denomination. There were disappointing times, and frustrating deliberations and some discouraging reports. But what gives me hope is the God whom we love, the Lord whom we follow, and the Spirit who beckon’s our heart. What gives me hope is the power of God’s word, and passion in God’s people, and the presence of the triune God who continues to live in and through his church.

Pastor Sid

Karin Terpstra