The Synod of 2014 welcomed not only Moravians from across the Southern Province. Two leaders from ecumenical partners—the Episcopal Church and the Church of the Brethren in Texas—also witnessed the work of Synod. Each has provided their thoughts on being amongst Moravians.
Katharine Jefferts Schori,
presiding bishop, Episcopal Church
I very much enjoyed the Synod of the Southern Province, and learned a great deal about how you make decisions, as well as more about what I’d call your “ethos.” I was deeply moved by your statement about solidarity with the people of Honduras, and mentioned it in a sermon a couple of days later. When we share the pain and fear of our neighbors, nearby and far away, we are transformed.
I also found your discernment around the election of a bishop or bishops fascinating and moving. As a body, you clearly listen deeply for the movement of the Spirit, and are willing to retreat from decisions “in the making” before they come to completion. You have something to teach other Christian bodies in the care you take, and the grace with which you address one another.
I give thanks for your hospitality and deeply gracious welcome. May God continue to bless your ministry as a body, and may our efforts toward common mission be fruitful.
James D. Hejl, pastor,
Taylor (Texas) Brethren Church, representing the Unity of the Brethren
The hearts were full.
This impression refers not only to the knitted, felted, candy-filled hearts placed at each Synod delegate’s seat, but to the prevailing spirit of love shown by all present. As an advisory delegate from the Unity of the Brethren in Texas, my memories of the 2014 Southern Province Synod are of a gathering of friends who may not see eye to eye on every issue, but whose hearts are nonetheless joined by the living God who transcends every barrier between people, real or imagined.
I found myself to be completely absorbed by moments of worship which were at once challenging and uplifting, and the plenary sessions seemed to strike the right notes of gravity and playfulness when proper. I always welcomed the joyful strains of the brass instrumentalists outside the assembly hall prior to the plenaries.
As my church experimented with electronic balloting at our 2013 Convention, I keenly observed the implementation of similar technology at Synod, and found that its use served the parliamentary goals well. Indeed, Synod leaders seemed always careful to have the overall process serve people, rather than expect people to serve the process. The online availability of reports and other documents prior to Synod greatly aided the task of preparation.
The moments of candor voiced by delegates from the floor underscore the tremendous challenges facing the Moravian Church and the breadth of passionate views held by her members. My love, support, and fervent prayers are ever with the Moravian Church and I covet the same for the Unity of the Brethren in Texas. As we strive to discern and follow God’s will and to strengthen our bonds of friendship, my hope is articulated by my defining memory of the 2014 Southern Province Synod:
The hearts were full.