Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Eastern District Report

I received the following report on the Eastern District 2009 convention from a friend who attended as a lay delegate:


My trip to the convention started with a seven hour drive to Amherst, NY (in the Beltway of Buffalo). Nothing really special there and I am sure that you do not really care about the drive anyway.

The location was Daemen College, which from what I can tell was originally founded as a Catholic institution but seems to be pretty well secularized, even though there were signs that there is a prevalent Campus Ministry of some type there.

The convention this year was a two day event, Friday and Saturday; in the past it had covered three days, but this year they tightened the schedule. Part of what allowed that was the use of wireless electronic voting keypads, which gave immediate results for voting previously they hand counted the paper votes.

Our itinerary stated with two workshops on Friday morning. Our choices were: “Ablaze in your Congregation” (Russ Sommerfeld), “Military Chaplaincy” (John Wohlrabe and Alex Knowles), “Congregational Finances” (Dave Bernard and John Siebert), “Ministry to Aging Boomers” (Cory Eckstrom), “Contextual Worship” (Dave Hurlbutt), “Parish Nursing” (Joyce Schumm and Mary Dries), “Building Your Facility Around Your Ministry” (Arnold Deknatel), and “Man-gelism – Reaching Men” (Rich Cohrs). We had to sign up for the workshops weeks ago when we registered. I had signed up for Congregational Finances and Man-gelism, the former because it sounded the least likely to be Ablaze propaganda and the later just because it seemed somewhat interesting. The Finances workshop was lead by a CPA who deals allot with helping Churches with their finances and was actually very informative, although not very theologically challenging. The Man-gelism workshop had a couple interesting points made, but was more or less trying to work up niche marketing with men in mind.

After Lunch we got to the actual convention business, which naturally started with one of eleven “Eastern District Ablaze! Ministry Moments Video,” which were five minute video clips highlighting some special thing a church in the Eastern District was doing they felt they could tack with the Ablaze! moniker.

The first order of business was the election of the new Eastern District President, since Dr. Brunner announced his retirement last year effective this August. The three canidates were Chris Wicher, Divid Werly, and Arthur Litke. Chris Wicher, probably the most Kieschnick-like, won on the first vote with more than 50% of the vote, so there was not even a runoff. One nice thing though is that Arthur Litke did later win the vote to be the First Vice President of the district. He was the favorite of the more confessional segment of the district which seems to be centered around the Pittsburgh region.

There were several other votes to fill offices of the district. There were also several voice votes on resolutions, which are contained in the “Todays Business” document, which I can send to you if you would like. Most of these were somewhat vaguely written and supported Ablaze! initiatives. There were some dissenting voices which spoke on the one microphone (we are a relatively small district and only really need one mike because there were only 192 voting delegates) but all of the resolutions passed without problem.

During all of this there were three Bible Study led by Russ Somerfeld, the President of the Nebraska District. They were centered around the theme of the convention, “Transforming Lives for time and for Eternity.” Perhaps I am just a bit cynical, but the Bible Study seemed to be mostly Law focused prodding us to do more. There were these little ceramic pieces of “Art” made by people in Panama called Bibelots that were a major feature of the Bible studies. We were all supposed to take these things home and use them at some time in the future to witness to someone else. I found that to be too gimmicky and left mine at the convention, perhaps someone who actually likes those type of things will pick it up and use it.

After the convention adjourned for the evening on Friday there was a Presidents reception, but several of us skipped that because of game 7 (I am sure you know what I am talking about here), probably the best part of the convention in my personal opinion.

On Saturday we received a report from the President of the Synod. Apparently President Kieschnick was too busy to make it to our convention personally, so he sent a proxy to read a statement followed by a videotaped report.

Then we had a member of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Structure and Governance give us a four page survey, ranked with five choices for each point from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree on the changes they are proposing. The representative said the Task Force would consider our opinion in their final proposal to the Synod at convention next year. He read each of the statements and gave the Task Force's reasons for making the proposals. Questions and comments were allowed after he had went through the entire survey. Personally I did not like the fact that questions and comments were not allowed until the end because some of these could have changed how people responded to points on the survey, but I really wonder if the results of the survey have much real weight in the Tasks Forces actions anyway.

The last question on the survey was should the Synod change its name, and if yes, what should the Synod be called.

There were a few more votes on resolutions in the afternoon on Saturday, but seeing as all of them were passing despite of my vote anyway, and that I had a seven hour drive home and a Sunday School lesson to finish because I am teaching the Adult Bible class during our vacancy, I left a couple of hours early. [A neighboring pastor] told me all of the resolutions passed as I had expected. I also missed a Eucharist Service, which bothered me more, but really I do not know if I consider myself in communion with the leadership of our district who are so much into this Ablaze! Garbage.


Christopher D. Hall said...

Thanks for the report. Man-gelism. Pretty amusing name...

On a serious note, whether or not your consider yourself in communion with leadership, district-or-Synod-wise, you are as long as you are rostered or a member of a congregation. I know many do not want to be, wish it were otherwise and so forth, but we don't have selective fellowship, especially not of the subjective sort.

Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes) said...

Sounds not too different from the Mid-South district. In fact, there are very many similarities on several points!

Preachrboy said...

Matt, would you be willing to write up something on the Mid-South District Convention for us?