Recent Synod of NE Conference

I met up with Kiran Young Wimberly the other day in the Community Park Elementary School playground where her daughter Eva and my granddaughter Julia were playing. Kiran and Greg Albert had just returned from the Synod of the NE as our Synod commissioners. Here’s a taste of our conversation:

Beth: You say it was inspiring and encouraging – why?

Kiran: I expected it to be a long, boring meeting, but instead I found myself surrounded by leaders in the church who were doing inspiring things. I don’t know what synod assembly used to be like, but they have recently adopted ‘The New Way Forward,‘ which has a positive feel to it. What I noticed was that most of the work of committees had been done behind the scenes and was being reported to us through a short verbal presentations, accompanied by longer written documents with more details. I was particularly inspired and encouraged by the innovative ministries that the Synod is supporting through their grants. They are operating out of abundance rather than scarcity, and investing in the future of the church rather than proclaiming that the church is dying.

Beth: What are some of the things the Synod is up to?

Kiran: Some creative community ministries that reach out to the church’s neighbors and welcome them into their doors with acceptance. Prison ministries, racial reconciliation ministries, and new church developments. Their website explains it well –

Beth: What has connectionalism meant to you? for example, when you were in Ireland, how did you feel connected to the greater denomination? And how about now?

Kiran: Synod has formed Networks around subjects of interest, such as Prison Ministry, Gun Violence, Clean Energy, which allows individuals or congregations to combine their energies and resources support one another and make a greater impact. They also have a Mediation Network that can be called upon in situations of conflict at the Presbytery level.

Beth: What would you want our Presbytery to glean from your experience at the Synod?

Kiran: I was excited to find a group of Presbyterian leaders interested in innovative ideas – to create what they call “unencumbered spaces.” Aside from that, it was incredible to be in a situation where I could sit around a lunch table with Tony De La Rosa, the Interim Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, (His address to GA can be found: gapresentation-pma) and sit only a few feet away from J. Herbert Nelson as he delivered an amazing sermon about the need for connectedness rather than polarization in the church. As emphasized, this is NOT a dying church! Also, I made connections with tons of other Presbyterians in the Northeast that I am glad to know – including some within our own Presbytery that I hadn’t had a chance to meet yet.



2 Comments Add yours

  1. peter gregory says:

    Of course what took up the oxygen of the event, as well as the press, was the whole Divestment resolution as pertains to energy and hydrocarbons. I am not sure if that was the intent of the Synod, or those in the room at the time, or the desired result, but that’s what the take away is and what will stick. Any other topic or goal, not withstanding.

    In the greater political-religious nexus of the left, I get the intent and design of the BDS movement, in terms of the overall narrative and to whom it speaks too. And while divestment from say Shell or Exxon-Mobil has a certain cache in the circles of Princeton and Lawrenceville, I am not sure its practicality or message to a state like NJ where close to 65% of home still use fuel oil, and folks worry more about putting food on a table or paying the bills, more than what the Presbytery or Synod is up too. Or their esoteric in house processes.

    On a theological level BDS as a tool or means to an end, really fails in three areas. The process is neither restorative, or seeks the betterment of those whom one disagrees with or finds objectionable, nor does it foster either dialogue or communication across the spectrum. Reading the Synod resolution the feeling and take away is we really do not like you people in the energy complex, and find you reprehensible. So we are taking our toys away and going home. A pox on your house. OK. Its what I would call neo-Puritanism. That we will only deal with and engage with those who meet some subjective standard of corporate purity. behaviors, or have polices we agree with . With negative outcomes for those who violate some list of individual or corporate behaviors. We define winners and losers and will impose a certain theology on those in and out of our spheres of influence. Those who settled Plymouth Plantation tried that in the 17th century. Did not end well for them. Whatever great or grandiose statement the Synod was attempting to make, it all came off rather small, petty and mean or angry, for lack of a better word to my reading. .


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