By Nancy Talbot
The 2018 Synod Assembly was organized by a “worshipful work” approach to our business and conversations. As we moved through the different elements of the meeting, each corresponded with an aspect of the Reformed order of worship, which helped to ground us in our spiritual identity and to remind us of our ultimate purpose of honoring God.
One of the main highlights of the Assembly was a confessional statement that was written and presented by a group of young ministry leaders called “A Confession for Such a Time as This.” Presented in the meeting’s “time of confession” and explored further during the time for “receiving the Word,” Synod Assembly Commissioners ultimately voted to commend this document to the Synod’s presbyteries and congregations for study as a contextual statement of what Reformed faith can look like, lived out in this place at this time in history. We encourage all gospel communities within your presbytery to undertake a study of the document. You will see that the Confession cites biblical references, which will assist your community in its study.
During the Assembly’s “receiving the Word” conversation time, Commissioners and Young Adult Advisory Delegates (YAADs) met in small groups to discuss the Confession and the Synod Leader’s report by exploring the following questions:
In what ways does the Confession "grate against" the borders we have created in our understanding and practice of "church" and being Christian?
What did it stir up for you personally and in your context?
In your presbytery, congregation, and community:
How do the claims of this Confession resonate, present challenges, and/or call out a need for change?
How can we live into this Confession in our work, worship, and community life for such a time as this?
You may wish to use these questions as a way to begin your study.
After the small group discussions, the Assembly gathered as a whole to share the key ideas and observations that arose from each small group. The notes gathered from the large group discussion, combined with the individual responses offered via post-it notes for each of the three main discussion components (Reflect, Connect, and Act), were entered into a word cloud generator to produce a graphical representation of the conversation. The result is posted below. (The graphic represents the frequency with which significant words appeared by size.) The results proved interesting, and were a source of further discussion for the Assembly on the following day.
The Synod Assembly’s conversations were only a beginning to what we hope will become an ongoing Synod conversation. We’d love to hear about the conversations happening in your communities, and to see the themes that emerge for you as well. Feel free to send us a word cloud representation of your conversations (or a combined document of your notes and we can generate one for you)!
We offer our sincere thanks to the young ministry leaders who wrote and signed the Confession for Such a Time as This. We are grateful for this opportunity to think, discuss, consider, and learn together.
The Rev. Nancy Talbot is the Synod Stated Clerk.