June 12, 2018

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
[2 Corinthians 5:17]
The readings for this coming Sunday, the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, are as follows:
Greetings from Port Clinton, Ohio, where my wife, Linda, and I, are spending a few days of rest and renewal after an outstanding Synod Assembly.
Our theme, as you have heard me say repeatedly, was "Ambassadors for Christ," and seldom in my memory has a theme been integrated into the presentations and the activities of the assembly so well.
Since my first synod assembly as bishop in 2015, we have worked to make it an "event" instead of a "business session." Based on the evaluation comments we receive each year, I feel that, with each assembly, we're approaching our goal of glorifying God and making the next assembly the best ever.
There are many people that deserve recognition and thanks for the success of this assembly; not the least of which is the assembly planning committee, which does the heavy lifting and goes largely unheralded. I thank God for them, because without them, nothing would happen.
But of those who are in front of the assembly, allow me to highlight just a few, in no particular order.
Mikka McCracken, our ELCA rep, and gave one of the most captivating presentations people have heard from any churchwide person in a long time. She oozes with passion about her work with ELCA World Hunger.
Pastor Jim Watson, who chairs our Discipling and Evangelizing Table, along with members of the Stewardship Table and Mission Interpreters, planned the Bible Study on 2 Corinthians, from where our theme was taken. This is the first Bible Study we've had in quite a while and it was welcomed by all who took part.
Amanda Silcox exceeded our expectations. My intent was to have her speak about her experience as a Young Adult in Global Mission in Cambodia, to raise awareness of the program in our synod. But she, speaking fervently and powerfully on advocacy and tying it marvelously to our theme, gave us so much more!
Given the reaction to her sermon at the opening Eucharist, Pastor Julianne Smith, our Director for Evangelical Mission, hit it out of the park. For those who don't understand baseball metaphors, she was great!
We are blessed with a dedicated Worship Committee that excels in planning, preparation, and identifying musicians and worship leaders. Our worship was exceptional.

The LYO board members and advisors, with Amanda Silcox (far left), and Mikka McCracken (far right).

And I can't say enough about the youth and the seriousness with which they take their leadership responsibility. They planned and led our closing Eucharist. I've said it often before, the church is in good hands with the young people we have among us. They are excellent ambassadors for Christ.
There were some Holy Spirit moments. One, inspired by Amanda Silcox's presentation, was when Mikka McCracken, after preaching at the closing worship, sat down at the piano and sang "For Everyone Born," accompanied by ELCA Church Council member Clarance Smith.
We continue to increasingly embrace technology. In addition to the electronic balloting introduced last year, this year we joined the "app-mosphere", enabling voting members to have their assembly materials as close as their smart phone. We also live-streamed the assembly and for those who missed it, all those sessions are available via our YouTube channel.
All in all, the assembly was exhausting but exhilarating. As you may be able to tell, I was pleased. I was left with a hopeful feeling for the future of the church. I welcome your evaluations, so that we can plan an even greater event next year.
As mentioned last week, tomorrow, Wednesday, June 13, I will be at the East Ohio Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church at Lakeside, Ohio, as I have been invited to be a part of their ordination service that day. I look forward to a blessed time in the company of our United Methodist sisters and brothers.
This coming Sunday, June 17, I will be with the people of God at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Akron as they kick off a year of festivities in celebration of their 150 th  Anniversary.
This week and always, may you sing praise to God's name, proclaim God's love in the morning and declare God's faithfulness at night.
+Bishop Abraham Allende