Following two challenging years impacted by the Covid pandemic, Moravians from across the Southern Province are preparing to come together to discern and make decisions about the future of their province.
The 2022 Synod of the Moravian Church, Southern Province, will be held in-person June 1-4 at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina. Nearly 200 regular and advisory delegates from Southern Province congregations and church agencies will be in attendance for this important part of church governance.
In Moravian polity, synods represent the highest decision-making body of each province and have tremendous responsibility in the life of the Moravian Church. Southern Province Synod delegates will help decide how the province continues its work while exploring ways to strengthen the church in the future.
Responsibilities of Synod
During the four-day event, delegates elect provincial leadership for the upcoming four years, including the Provincial Elders’ Conference, members of provincial and interprovincial boards and agencies, and in some years, bishops of the Moravian Unity (at the 2018 Synod, delegates elected two bishops: the Rt. Rev. Carol Foltz and Rt. Rev. Tom Shelton).
Synods also establish direction and priority for provincial ministries and encourage activities on the congregational level. They help answer questions and set guidelines on key topics and issues facing the province, while providing a platform for new ideas for strengthening the church and the faith of its members.
In addition to the legislative and decision-making duties of synod, these gatherings also provide a rare opportunity to bring together clergy and lay persons from all areas of the province, including its agencies and leadership, to talk about ministry together. Synod gathers the collective wisdom and experience of the entire province to work with each other and discern what God is calling us to do now.
And the event offers an opportunity for Moravians to worship and pray together, and to seek God’s guidance and direction for the church.
Delegates to Synod
All pastors under call are delegates to Synod, and every congregation has one lay delegate for every 125 adult communicant members. Small congregations are entitled to one delegate in addition to the pastor, while each fellowship is represented by an advisory delegate. Provincial boards and agencies are also represented, as are retired pastors and certified, full-time DCEs. Non-voting, or advisory delegates, representing our various interprovincial agencies, ecumenical partners and emerging ministries also attend.
A delegate is not a “representative” of his or her congregation; he or she is not someone instructed to vote a certain way by the congregation or leadership. The Book of Order states that a delegate, “must not lose sight of the interests of the Province and of the Unity as a whole,” even as they consider the perspective of their home congregation.
Delegates elected from congregations are sent with prayers and the guidance of the Spirit to use their gifts and maturity to engage in matters at Synod using their own conviction and to discern the direction God desires for the entire Moravian Church Southern Province.
Delegates are expected to further prepare for Synod by familiarizing themselves with the processes and parliamentary procedures of the event; reviewing the reports and information from boards and agencies; becoming knowledgeable about nominees for elected offices; preparing for four intensive days of work for the future of the church; and to praying before and during Synod for God’s leading and direction for the province.
At Synod, delegates will participate in daily worship and devotions, work in committees and working groups, and gather in plenary sessions with all delegates for discussions and votes. Elections and votes on resolutions will be handled electronically to help speed the process. The four days are intense – there is a lot to accomplish in a short period of time – but plenty of opportunity for prayer, singing, and catching up with Moravians from other parts of the province is built into the schedule.
More information about the upcoming Synod is available at the Southern Province website, www.mcsp.org. In addition, the Interprovincial Board of Communication and Commission on Congregational Development will cover the 2022 Synod and will report on key events and decisions.
The Moravian Church Northern Province made the decision in 2021 to postpone its 2022 Synod until 2023. It is now expected to be held in June of 2023 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
About the Synod Theme:
“In the faith we travel by/God is in the other place.”
The theme for the 2022 Southern Province Synod is pulled from a well-known hymn, “When We Lift Our Pack and Go.” As you prepare for Synod, we invite you to read—and sing—the words to this hymn, found in the Moravian Book of Worship, Hymn 793.
The Bible is an ongoing story of people on the move, in search of a place that God will show them. We take courage from their faithful example, believing with them that God will be found in every new country.
Today, emerging from the pandemic, all people of faith are likely in an “other place,” with new habits, new questions, new needs—and perhaps new ideas and a new spirit. As our Synod gathers, we look forward, with eyes and hearts open, to discovering some of the many ways that God is in the other place.