Ponderings: Meeting the first two purposes of Synod

As I write this, I’ve just returned from the Western District Synod, held at Mt. Morris Camp in Wisconsin. In another month, I will be in Edmonton, Alberta for the Canadian District Synod, followed in two weeks by the Eastern District Synod in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.*

Yes, it’s Synod season in the Northern Province. In between the every-four-year provincial synods, the districts of the province hold their gatherings to discuss the needs of the church in their areas.

The last time the districts held their synods in 2020 (actually, thanks to COVID-19, it was 2021), they were virtual – organized and held online via Zoom. Delegates gathered in front of webcams and computer screens instead of in-person. The synod officers and planning teams were in a conference room at the Church Center in Bethlehem. The legislation and elections necessary were achieved; planners were creative with worship opportunities; reports from agencies were made via video; but we weren’t together. For the first time since joining the IBOC in 2010, I covered each Synod from my office, not in Canada or Wisconsin or at Moravian University.

This year promises to be different. Delegates will once again meet in person. Depending on the district, between 25 and 175 Moravians will come together in their areas to discuss the future of the churches within their district.

According to the Northern Province Book of Order, the first two purposes of a district synod are to a.) confirm and renew Christian love and fellowship and b.) to stimulate and strengthen the work of the Lord. While efforts were made in the virtual synods to meet these purpose, they are much better met when we gather in person.

Being all together — to have face-to-face conversations, to worship together, to shake hands or hug or smile, to enjoy meals together, to share ideas in person – makes these gatherings much more meaningful. And as a communicator, being there lets me hear firsthand what’s happening among our congregations and agencies (and filling my story queue with lots of article ideas) while reconnecting with friends and colleagues.

If the Western District synod is any indication, this is going to be a good year for traveling. I’m looking forward to being among so many dedicated Moravians and sharing more of what happens at these important gatherings.


Mike Riess, Editor

* I write “Ponderings” once the rest of the magazine is ready for press;, so  in-depth coverage of the Western District synod will appear in our next issue. And once these are over, I then get to meet with a large gathering of my Southern Province Moravian counterparts during their Intersynodal Gathering in October.