As I write to this, I am sitting and watching the ELCIC’s National Convention online. National Church Council decided to hold an online gathering in the 2022 and an in-person gathering in 2023.
The convention this summer will deal only with the items of business that needed to be dealt with according to the constitution (elections and budgets, etc..) Whereas items for discussion and deliberation, important reports from task forces, and other conventions items that are better dealt with in-person will be on the agenda next year.
If I had to guess, even the mention of the words “church convention” would cause most folks to start yawning. The perception of church conventions is that they are pretty boring affairs, with lots of motions, amendments, reports, minutes, points of order and generally people droning on about very uninteresting things.
Certainly, sometimes they can be that.
Church conventions can also be important moments for the church to gather together, to share in worship, discussion and fellowship together, to be one church body together across the country.
Most people who attend ELCIC churches like SPLC might only have a handful of times that they participate in events with other folk from the ELCIC. When the larger church does gather at events like the ordinations of new pastors, or installations of pastors taking new calls, synod conventions and national conventions, there is an opportunity for representatives from our congregation to meet with representatives from other ministries and congregations. These are chances to see what our siblings in faith are doing, to share in one another’s joys and commiserate in our struggles, and know that we are no not alone in the work of ministry. We have others all around us there to support us and who need our support.
As we already know through our shared youth ministry experience, the time of congregations functioning mostly on their own is over. More and more we are going to find ourselves meeting up with and then working intentionally with folks from other congregations. The larger church is going to become a far more interconnected and interdependent environment in the future. We are all coming to learn that we cannot do the work of ministry on our own. Not as congregations, not as Lutherans in Winnipeg or in Manitoba or in Canada.
So yes, National Convention might be something that elicits a few yawns. But it is also a tangible sign that we are not alone as a congregation and the work of ministry will include more siblings of faith working together than ever before.
PS You can follow-up with all the ELCIC’s National Convention things on their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CanadianLutherans