Synod Vice President Transition Coming
As we approach our 2019 Assembly, Gwen Arneson will share some reflections on being our synod's Vice President. Gwen has announced she will not be available for another term. We hope her reflections will help people imagine who might serve in this call.
Reflections of a Synod Vice President
+ Gwen Arneson
When I was first elected as Synod Vice President more than 19 years ago, I had no idea of the inspirational and life-changing ride I would enjoy. I still remember attending my first meeting of the Synod Council and making my share of beginner's blunders in leading the meeting. The people around the table were gracious and encouraging, and amazingly came back for the next meeting!
What a joyful adventure in faith this has been! I feel that it is truly a calling - not just an elected role. I have learned so much from and am grateful for the witness of faith-filled people on Council; the three bishops with whom I have served and their staffs; the other 64 synodical Vice Presidents with whom I have the privilege of gathering regularly; and the voices of people around this church in the world. My faith has grown and my eyes have been opened in amazing - and sometimes, challenging - ways as I experience the ways God is at work in this denomination and beyond. I have been richly blessed through my serving in this role.
Much has changed for Synod Vice Presidents since I began my tenure. Our Churchwide expression now supports regular gatherings for the VPs so that they can form relationships and networks to support one another. Vice Presidents are, in nearly all synods, now automatically Voting Members at Churchwide Assemblies, something that wasn't the case in all synods years ago. What a benefit that has been to be "in the loop" of decision-making and conversations firsthand, rather than simply reading about actions that have been taken that impact the life of the synod.
Vice Presidents are the highest elected volunteer lay leaders in every ELCA synod. It comes with great responsibility and investment of heart and mind and time. The SWMN Synod Council meets face-to-face in January, April, September and November of each year, and several additional times via ZOOM meeting technology. The Executive Committee of the Council, which consists of the Bishop, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and two At-Large members, meets prior to every Synod Council meeting, and by ZOOM or conference call, as needed. In addition, as Vice President I have served as a member of the Personnel Committee, the Long Range Planning Committee, the Lead Team for our Funding Initiative, and on the interview teams for several staff member searches over the course of these past years.
I'm grateful to my supportive and encouraging family members who have understood that sometimes my weekends were booked with a meeting, or that I needed to be gone for a week to Churchwide Assembly somewhere in the country.
Since I have Sunday morning commitments in my home congregation of Christ Lutheran in Cottonwood as the Lay Pastoral Assistant/Organist/Choir Director, it has been difficult for me to be out in other congregations at that time of the week, even though I would welcome that opportunity. I have represented our Synod very rarely in that way; other Vice Presidents have the capacity to do more congregational visits. Each person brings unique gifts and availability to the role. As I have gotten to know so many other Vice Presidents over the years, I have noticed the wide ranging variations in ways they have been a part of the life of their synods.
What a gift to me these years of serving as Vice President have been! I look forward to seeing who will be called to serve in the coming years!