January, 2023

The Northwestern Ohio Synod Council met on January 21, 2023 at Grace in Toledo.

Below are some highlights from their meeting:

After Devotions led by Pastor Mindy Elliott (St. Peter, Ridgeville Corners), Synod Council experienced the Story of Grace Lutheran Church in Toledo as shared by Mr. Bob Haar.

Bishop Daniel shared a teaching session about leadership in liminal spaces. The landscape of the church in Northwestern Ohio is changing, and the change is hastening. We are finding ourselves in a liminal space. This liminal space is a space that is in between the inherited church “that was”, and the emerging church “that will be”. God is calling us into an unknown and uncharted space. So, how might we prepare leaders for this new reality? By reimagining the concept of leadership training. The training of church leaders needs to change so that we might embrace a changing world.

The traditional way of training church leaders focuses on a model of learning centered on the academy. Students were instructed in the classroom. They took in lots of information by reading books, listening to lectures, and taking exams. This “Inherited Church” model of forming leaders has been the standard in Europe and North America for the last 150 years.

The emerging way of training church leaders focuses on a model of learning centered on immersive and experiential learning. Think “apprenticeship” and “on the job training”. Think of the way that electricians, surgeons, and student teachers are trained. Instead of an exchange of information, there is a commitment to invest. Someone invests their time, wisdom, skills, resources, and life into the burgeoning leader. These established leaders teach us to do what they do.

When you read the Story of Jesus in the New Testament, you quickly see that Jesus trains His disciples using the “apprenticeship” and “on the job training” model. This was also the model the Early Church used to train leaders. While we are in this liminal space, let’s dream together about how we might embrace a new way of training church leaders for the church that is emerging.

In other Synod Council actions:

  • After engaging in consultation with the Churchwide Mission Support Team, and an extended period of study and financial projections from the Finance Team, Synod Council voted to revise the 2023/24 Northwestern Ohio Synod Spending Plan to include a reduction in proportionate share (the amount of Mission Support income that the synod shares with the national ELCA), from 51% TO 40%. At the end of the fiscal year, Synod Council will consider an additional gift to Mission Support should revenue exceed projections.
  • Synod Council approved a donation of 10% (nearly $48,000) of the Bright Road Office Building sale to Churchwide in the form of Mission Support.
  • Included in the 2023-24 Northwestern Ohio Synod Mission Spending Plan are funds to:
    • Increase the capacity of synod staff by hiring a Director for Generosity, to increase generosity and provide training to congregational leaders on long-range financial sustainability.
    • Partner with local synods to invest in lay theological education by developing programs of training for non-traditional seminary tracks. Many of our parishes are being led by locally trained lay leaders, and this allows us to better support them.
    • A synod goal will be to begin offering immersive, experiential learning experiences and pilgrimages to equip our leaders for the emerging church.
  • As you can see, Synod Council is looking forward to new and increased opportunities to train and support church leaders, resource our parishes towards mission and financial stability, and create new pathways for increased generosity.
  • Synod Council approved a new “Donor Restricted and Endowment Disbursement Policy”
  • Synod Council discussed the nomination process for the ELCA Commission for a Renewed Lutheran Church.

For more information about Synod Council and to access Synod Council Meeting Minutes please visit: https://nwos-elca.church/about/synod-council/