Southern Province Intersynodal Gathering: Moving Forward Together
In late April, more than 200 church leaders from across the Southern Province gathered at Friedland Moravian Church in North Carolina for the 2012 Intersynodal Gathering. Participants included Regional Conference of Churches representatives from eight of our ten Moravian fellowships and 50 of our 56 congregations.
Members of the Board of Cooperative Ministries, the Provincial Elders' Conference, bishops, and representatives from the Provincial Support Services Board, the Archives Commission, the Implementation Steering Committee and provincial staff rounded out the group. We were blessed by the presence and worship leadership from our seminarians and recent graduates, and by the wonderful hospitality of the Friedland congregation.
The purpose of the gathering was to get "the whole system"—those most directly involved with the new Southern Province provincial organization—in the room for conversations.
Friday night discussion groups centered on: "What do we have to celebrate?" "When and in what ways has God been active in our midst?" "What 'signs and wonders' have you seen?" and "What is encouraging, energizing, motivating?"
The 16 groups were each asked to create a 140-character message that captured the discussion. Here are three examples (abbreviations included!):
- New spirit cooperation and possibilities between churches discovering resources beyond our door creating closeness and new life together better than alone.
- Out of change, disorder; out of disorder, freedom; out of freedom, energy; out of energy, movement; out of movement, miracles; and in all things FUN.
- Creative, energetic conversation that joins congregations together that brings our faith to life in our community.
Saturday morning we reflected and shared about the following: "Suppose the Southern Province could choose three things to do more of, or do differently, in order to grow in faith, love and hope and to enhance our shared mission and ministry. What would they be?"
As might be expected, responses to these questions were varied and engaging. Numerous ideas were grouped under the eight characteristics of healthy congregations: focus on relationship with Christ personally and corporately, mission, growth, leadership, worship, cooperation, stewardship and ministry.
Together these ideas and suggestions from meetings of the Regional Conferences of Churches which occurred Saturday evening during the Gathering will provide guidance for the next two years as we continue our journey, moving forward together.David Guthrie is president of the Southern Province Provincial Elders' Conference. All photos by Charles Beaman.Related articles: