"The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come."—Dietrich Bonhoeffer
December 15, 2020
From the bishop's office
“Parenting during the pandemic has been super difficult,” says Pastor Emily Kuhn Hartner of Holy Trinity, Charlotte. “My work suffered; my parenting suffered. My son Oliver asks me almost every night when the coronavirus is going to end, and I simply don't have an answer.” Pastor Lauren Carlson of Calvary, Morganton can relate. “The most challenging part about being a parent during the pandemic is trying to making sure our kids are ok when the whole world is clearly not,” she says. “I have taken family leave from the church so that I can be not just mom, but also assistant teacher and playmate.”

Bishop Tim's Sabbatical
Dear NC Synod:
This is a reminder that my three-month sabbatical was scheduled for 2020. As is often the case with synod staff sabbaticals, mine was split into three segments. The first part was earlier this year (pre-COVID-19) and included two weeks overseas to study Spanish and several days away in spiritual retreat for discernment. The second part was the month of July. Now the third part has arrived—December 13 through January 3. As required, I have appointed Pastor Phil Tonnesen as Acting Bishop from Dec. 13 to Dec. 25, and Pastor Sara Ilderton as Acting Bishop from Dec. 26 to Jan. 3.—Bishop Tim Smith
Re-Gathering Recommendations
While Governor Cooper announced a Modified Stay-at-Home Order last week, the recommendations from the synod's Re-Gathering Task Force have not changed since they were published in the November 11 Special e-News.

A virtual Blue Christmas Service
Christmas should be a happy season. But it’s hard to sing “Joy to the World” when sadness engulfs your heart. The reality of life—memories of the past and the pain of the present—can leave many people feeling less than merry in December. Register now to participate in the Women of the ELCA's virtual Blue Christmas Service at 8 p.m. on Monday, December 21, via Zoom. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with info to join the webinar.

Lessons & Carols Worship on Dec. 27
The synod staff will provide two options—a recording & a live Zoom call—of a Lessons & Carols service for congregations to use on Sunday, December 27, featuring music from Rachel Kurtz, Christopher Clay, and the Lenior-Rhyne Choir. The recording will be available on 12/27 by 8:30 a.m. on the synod's YouTube channel and Facebook page and a download for sharing directly to your social media channel will be available on December 22 from this Google Drive folder. The live worship via Zoom will be at 7 p.m. and will be led by Pastor CeCee Mills, Pastor Athena Thomasson-Bless, and Deacon Tammy Jones West. CLICK THIS Zoom link to join.

Bishop Eaton: We are never alone
The room was spare and dimly lit. We sat on folding chairs in a circle—young Honduran women and some of us from the ELCA. We had come to Honduras to observe the work of AMMPARO (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection Advocacy, Representation, and Opportunities). This is the ELCA’s strategy to help youth who have been forced to flee their home countries because of violence, abuse, extortion by gangs, and extreme poverty. Amparo is the Spanish word for shelter or refuge.

Epiphany Worship Livestreamed
The thirteen bishops of the class of 2019 will lead a joint Epiphany of Our Lord worship service which will be streamed from many locations—including the Southeastern Synod’s Facebook and YouTube. Join in on Wednesday, January 6, at 8 p.m. Eastern as we confess, lament, lean into the light of God shining brightly in Holy Scripture, proclamation of the Word, and musical offerings from across the church.

Exploring "Hidden Tensions"
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s renowned Letter from Birmingham Jail, is the source of revolutionary ideas that have been shared more widely, such as: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In January 2021, the synod's Racial Justice Network will explore the context of this masterpiece in-depth with a creative look at the tensions it addresses, in hopes of gaining a better understanding of the letter’s relevance both then and now, especially for the church. You’re invited to join the Racial Justice Network in this opportunity for learning in January 2021. Look for more details to be announced in January editions of Synod e-News.
LYO Registration Open
Registration for the 2021 Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO) Assembly on Saturday-Sunday, February 27-28 is OPEN! Don’t miss out on your chance to participate in this VIRTUAL faith-forming event with your youth, grades 6-12. At this youth-planned and youth-led event, participants spend time with each other in small groups, singing with the band, and growing in faith.

Save the date: Boundary Training
Save the date for 2021 Boundary Trainings! Boundaries are the understandings that help to provide safe spaces for ministry. All rostered ministers are required to participate in boundary training every three years. 2021 Boundary Resource Days are now scheduled for February 9, April 19, July 1, and September 1. The February and April sessions will be held via Zoom.

Continuing Education Reminder
Rostered Ministers: As 2020 comes to an end, take a moment to reflect on all that you've learned. It's likely been a LOT! It may have looked different from your continuing education in the past; that's okay. Give yourself credit for new things like learning how to have an online presence for worship in 2020—10 hours of CE for you for navigating this new horizon. Remember that no more than 20 hours (half your required hours) can be credited for a single event, though D.Min. and Ph.D. programs are an exception. Contact Tammy Jones West or Carissa Abraham with questions.

Register now for Extravaganza 2021
Extravaganza for less than $25? Yes! It's true! This year, given everything that's going on, the ELCA Youth Ministry Network wanted to make the Extravaganza (February 4-6) as accessible as possible. You've got two options:
  1. Register yourself for $25. That's it. No other hidden costs.
  2. For $60, register as many people from your congregation as you want. Colleagues, volunteers, pastors, church councils, youth committees, etc. No limit! Bring 'em all!

Register today! (These prices increase on January 1, 2021.)
Treasurers: Changes to 1099s
The IRS has made an important change to reporting nonemployee compensation (such as supply pastors and supply organists) on form 1099. The 1099-MISC form has been used in the past to report certain payments, including non-employee compensation (NEC), to the IRS, but beginning with tax year 2020, the 1099-MISC has been redesigned due to the creation of Form 1099-NEC. Employers will no longer report nonemployee compensation, such as payments to independent contractors, on Form 1099-MISC. New IRS forms are available here.

Rostered minister transitions
The Rev. Margaret Ashby (Asheville) retired effective October 31, 2020.

The Rev. Shea Berbaum (transferring from TX/LA Gulf Coast Synod) is called to serve as pastor at Philadelphia, Dallas, and Holy Communion, Dallas, starting December 20.

The Rev. Jesse Canniff-Kuhn (Our Father, Greensboro) is transferring to the SC Synod effective January 1, 2021. He will be Campus Minister at USC (3/4 time), and Chaplain at LTSS (1/4 time), Columbia.
Of mourning
Freda Christ, widow of Pastor John Christ, died on November 19. Pastor Christ served primarily in the Upstate New York Synod and retired to the Charlotte area. We mourn with her family. Read the full obituary.

Of healing
Moses DeNise, son of Pastor Danielle DeNise (ELCA Director for Evangelical Mission, NC Synod) and Michael DeNise (NC Synod Director of Finance & Administration), had his third surgery on Friday, December 4. He is recovering at home.

Of celebration for our synod's centenarians
Alberta Holden of Lutheran Church of Reconciliation, Wilmington, turned 104 in November.

Of celebration for an ordination
Julie Laureen Tonnesen was ordained on Saturday, December 12, at 3:00 p.m. at Elon University. Pastor Tonnesen will serve as Associate Pastor at Macedonia, Burlington, and Campus Minister for LEAF at Elon University. Watch the service here.
For Advent
God of hope, who brought love into this world, be the love that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought peace into this world, be the peace that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought joy into this world, be the joy that dwells between us.
God of hope, the rock we stand upon, be the center, the focus of our lives always, and particularly this Advent time. Amen.—from faithandworship.com
News from across the church
Cross & Crown's Pandemic Perseverance
Members of Cross and Crown, Matthews, have been supporters of C.O.S.Kids, a non-profit Christian ministry supporting especially low-income, single-parent families in Matthews. The congregation has been supported in this ministry for two years with a Peeler-Casey grant from the NC Synod, and this year has included this funding in their own spending plan. Their members will not give up on this vital ministry!

Strengthening Our Tie
“The poor bus was just sitting there doing nothing,” said Melinda Ransdell. Melinda is a member of Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Southern Pines, NC and serves on the council. “We loved our bus. It was special to us, but we weren’t using it anymore.”

Lutheran Men in Mission
Men’s ministry continues to thrive across NC. Masked and social distancing, men have found creative ways to continue their ministry in the church and community. Men are supporting food pantries, preparing personal care kits, and making home improvements for the disabled. Men in Mission have redesigned their website and want to share with others the great ministry that you are doing. Send your pictures with a brief description to Terry Edwards or Jack Weller to be posted to the website or Facebook page. Our vision is for every man to become a bold, daring follower of Jesus Christ.

Resources for your congregation
Ski Season at Lutherock
Book your stay at Lutherock and let us stand in line for you...we'll pick up your lift tickets so that you can avoid the crowds and be the first ones on the mountain! We are open to small groups, house-holds, and family reservations. We have health and safety procedures in place, based on the guidance of the NC Synod, CDC, American Camp Association, and state guidelines.

Luther and MLK, Jr., Spring Course
Have you ever been struck by the fact that the leader of the Civil Rights Movement was named after Martin Luther? It’s more than a coincidence! The ITC, where NC Synod pastor Dr. Mark Ellingsen teaches, will offer a Zoom course this Spring on Monday nights (starting January 11) which will help you appreciate not just the deep admiration King’s father had for the first Protestant Reformer, but also how much Dr. King and Luther agree on theology. Realizing that Lutheran theology has affinities with the Civil Rights Movement could mean that congregations will be well-positioned to make a greater impact on issues of justice. Want to start making a difference? Sitting in on this seminary course can give you the tools! Dr. Ellingsen will be joined by the Rev. Dr. Everett Flanigan for this 14-week course. Cost is $200—come as you can; it’s all recorded. 

Congregational Financial Assessment
Through the Resourceful Servants Congregational Financial Assessment, your congregation can help grow donors’ confidence by proactively engaging in a review of financial systems relative to best practices and healthy behaviors. Carry out these activities to signal to donors that your congregation merits donations and convey that accountability, impact, transparency, and professionalism are valued.

Did you know?
Need an emotional/attitude adjustment or an energy boost? We recommend watching this 3-minute dance video by Augusta Victoria Hospital. It's a wonderful and creative way of promoting peace and joy! Or, watch a Lessons and Carols simulcast with Christmas Lutheran and the Episcopal Diocese of Philadelphia.
Synod E-News | NC Synod, ELCA | 704-633-4861 | nclutheran.org