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Southern Province Moravians envision new paths forward

The 2022 Southern Province Synod, held at June 1-4 at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, gathered the province’s collective wisdom and experience to discern what God is calling the Southern Province of the Moravian Church in America to do and be.  More than 230 delegates and ministry partners came together to envision – and legislate – new paths forward for the province, its congregations and its members.

Delegates Madi White and Ruth Cole Burcaw present a proposal to Synod

Delegates legislated nearly 40 proposals to establish direction and priorities for provincial and congregational activities.  Working in committees, delegates developed new proposals and reviewed previously-presented ones, bringing forth ideas and initiatives to strengthen our faith and witness to the world; make a greater impact in our communities; improve and strengthen the structure and operations of the province; and reaffirm Moravian stances on issues of advocacy, justice and our core faith.

In Moravian polity, synods represent the highest decision-making body of each province and have tremendous responsibility in the life of the Moravian Church.  In addition to the legislative actions of Synod, delegates elected provincial leadership for the upcoming four years, along with members of provincial and interprovincial boards and agencies.

The 2022 Synod also offered a rare opportunity to bring together clergy and lay persons from all areas of the province to discuss ministry together in one place. Moravian delegates were joined by representatives from church agencies and ecumenical leaders from full communion and covenant partners.

Delegates representing Moravian congregations in Florida lead singing during Synod worship

On each day of Synod, Moravians worshiped and prayed together, seeking God’s guidance and direction for the church. These services, which included meaningful liturgies, insightful sermons and many different types of music, drew attendees closer to God and illustrated the diversity of Moravian worship.

“While I am still working to process all that took place at Synod, three areas stick out to me: identity, nurture of ministry and new resources to encourage broader outreach,” says the Rev. Dr. Neil Routh, who was elected as president of the Southern Province Provincial Elders’ Conference (PEC) for the coming four years.

“In many ways, this Synod affirmed our heritage, offered strong support of present ministries and the people who are so vital to keep them vibrant, and established resources for reaching our local and global communities to address areas where reconciliation is most needed.  It connects me to the vision of Paul: ‘God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19 The Message)’”

Synod chair the Rev. Dr. Frank Crouch and co-chair Katherine Wilkerson consult during Synod

The 2022 Synod was chaired by the Rev. Dr. Frank Crouch, retired pastor and former dean of Moravian Theological Seminary, with co-chair Katherine Wilkerson of Raleigh Moravian Church.  They worked to ensure that procedures were handled appropriately, ushering through nearly all of the proposals brought to the Synod floor.

Planning teams worked for nearly two years to bring Synod together, while dedicated Moravians handled technology, logistics, reproduction and distribution of materials, balloting and much more. Environmental and technical challenges, last-minute staff issues, working in an entirely new facility, and other concerns caused some bumps along the way.  However, the staff, volunteers and delegates worked through these to complete the work of Synod.

Along with the many resolutions presented, Synod committees summarized their additional work with reports that are entered into the Synod record.  These reports capture ideas, perspectives and learnings resulting from their time together that inform and offer additional insights for future initiatives.

With Synod now concluded, the new Provincial Elders’ Conference will begin to review, prioritize and begin putting into practice the actions approved by delegates.

Ed. Note: In upcoming posts, we will share more information on the resolutions passed and additional details on Synod actions –Mike Riess, IBOC

Synod tellers count ballots during the election for Southern Province Provincial Elders’ Conference president.

The Rev. Dr. Nola Reed Knouse leads the band welcoming delegates to the Anderson Center at Winston-Salem State University.

Outgoing Provincial Elders’ Conference President the Rev. Chris Thore presents a State of the Church address during Synod.

Delegates discuss proposals during Synod plenary sessions.

During a Synod worship service, delegates were invited to write names of those who had an impact on their faith formation.

The Rev. Evette Campbell preaches a sermon during Synod worship.