Lutherans Hold First-Ever Synod Gathering at Lenoir-Rhyne University | Local News

Special for the Record & Landmark

HICKORY — Just over 300 members of the North Carolina Synod congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) gathered for the first ever Synod meeting, June 2-4 at Lenoir University- Rhyne.

Accustomed to meeting every May to conduct business as the principal legislative body of the NC synod, a recent constitutional change has allowed for no business to meet. Instead, attendees participated in full daily worship, were captivated by the boundless love stories of keynote speaker and author Dr. Jacqueline Bussie, learned new skills and ideas in workshops and received a report from NC Synod Bishop Timothy M. Smith.

The three-day theme focused on the guiding biblical passage of Isaiah 43:19: I am about to do a new thing; now it springs, do you not perceive it? God is doing new things in the NC Synod, new things that have been the culmination of this special time together.

First, Smith challenged the synod to address the need for refugee resettlement. His bishop’s challenge is for 70 percent of the synod’s 197 congregations to actively engage in resettlement over the next 18 months. The resettlement and support efforts will be done in partnership with one of NC Synod’s agencies, Lutheran Services Carolinas.

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Additionally, the 50th ordination of women in the ELCA (which took place two years ago when COVID-19 prevented an in-person event), was finally celebrated. The joy of gathering in person for worship after a two-year hiatus from COVID-19 was palpable, and the gifts of women were evident at every turn. The women on the list – pastors and deacons – ministered, presided and prayed. The service was carefully designed to reflect celebration with hymns and prayers written by and celebrating women.

Gathering for fellowship over meals, making new friends and connecting with old ones, as well as celebrating the faithful ministry of recently retired assistant deacon Bishop Tammy Jones West, were exactly what was needed for the renewal and inspiration.

Additional stories detailing the work, worship and ministry reports of the 2022 NC Synod Gathering can be found at

Barry F. Howard