Commission Moderator Thia Reggio led a fish bowl discussion with the Synod Mission Team – Synod Leader Harold Delhagen, Stated Clerk Nancy Talbot and Synod Networker Amaury Tanon-Santos in which she asked four questions: 1-What is the mission team and how does it work? 2-What three things have been your foci since the last commission meeting? 3-What do you see as the most pressing matter for the Synod between now and the next meeting? 4-What do you see as the challenges and the positives of the New Way Forward? As each mission team member answered, it wove together a tapestry of the individual and collective daily work that helps to move the Synod forward. As always, we broke for meals and enjoyed fellowship and worship. Everyone left knowing that we had done good work on behalf of the Synod.
The Mission Working Group of the Synod Mission and Ministries Commission reviews grant applications and then joyfully gathers to discern which innovative ministries to help fund across the Synod of the Northeast. Those that catch our attention reflect thoughtfulness in research, have support from their presbytery, create new energy for the gospel in relationships, and demonstrate promise for sustainability in ministry. As a result of the Commission decisions at its January 2017 meeting, we are pleased to commend to you the work of each of the following Innovation Grant Recipients:
It might not sound like such a revelation to offer a movie night, but Ogdensburg has no movie theater. The small city used to be a thriving port, but the economy tanked nearly a decade ago. Now there is poverty, isolation, and a constant flow of drugs over the Canadian border putting the town at risk of addiction and opening it to the destructive forces that loneliness and anger and a sense of abandonment can unleash.
PIM, one of the 1,001 Worshiping Communities and partially funded by the Synod’s Innovation Fund is a ministry of many love stories like this one. The stories of people who come and go, caught up in a system that ignores their humanity. PIM calls them into community with Christ, so that even as they move from detention centers to holding cells to prisons, they know that they are not alone.
My wife and I minister to a growing community with many immigrants who are coming to Long Island. One young woman we met told us that she was paying $400 for a trip to the Human Resources Office in Manhattan to seek political asylum. Multiple trips at $400 for refugees fleeing persecution! These are not wealthy people. So, we were able to step in and help with transportation and providing a safe community for this young woman, who was also expecting a child. Then in September, when the child was coming, my wife Miriam accompanied the young woman to the hospital. She was there for the delivery of the child—a moment that is like none other.
Turns out, God is doing a new thing. Of course, Isaiah, one of our favorite Advent voices, told us to look and see the new thing God is doing, but I never dreamed I would find myself in the middle of one of those new things. Would you join me in doing the new thing that the Synod is igniting through a contribution to the Innovation Fund?
When the Plainfield schools began to make significant cuts to the arts, Nuevas Fronteras knew it had to take action. Partnering with the Synod of the Northeast with an Innovation Grant, Nuevas Fronteras developed a conservatory to teach children both music and the value of discipline.
In 2016 we provided Innovation Funds to the Genesis Center, a center whose mission is to provide churches with current and relevant Christian resources with an understanding of their unique needs and limited budgets.
The September 2016 Synod Mission and Ministries Commission was full of our regular work as well as approving items to pass onto the Synod Assembly for consideration and approval. The full Commission serves as the Synod Board of Trustees. In this capacity they voted to: have funds from the Wurffel-Sills Fund support the Robert L. Washington Scholars and Fellows Program; have the unused balance of the Black Theology and Leadership Institute Fund of $1,390 be transferred to the Robert L. Washington Program; approve the funding of $36,000 for the CrossRoads Racial Awareness program for 2017 from the Walker Fund; and authorize the Treasurer to take appropriate steps to receive distribution from the Eichelberger Trust, of which the Synod is a named beneficiary, with an expected payout of $125,000.