2021 Synod Assembly

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod ELCA will gather for a special online business meeting on Saturday, April 24.

The changing times of this pandemic have forced us to rethink how we hold meetings and equip leaders and congregations — and the 2021 Synod Assembly is no exception.

The business portions of this year’s Assembly will be totally online. And because most people would find it tedious to be logged in to an online meeting for two full days (our usual Assembly schedule), we have pared down the agenda to fit into one day. The online business meeting will be on Saturday, April 24.

This year’s Assembly theme is “Serving an Unchanging God in Changing Times” which will be living into during our online gathering. The agenda features prayer and preaching, presentations by the bishop and other Synod officers, adoption of the 2022 budget, and important elections for Synod Vice President, Churchwide Assembly, Synod Council, and committees.

In normal times the Assembly is a time to catch up with friends and colleagues and experience the diversity of Synod ministries. We can’t do that during the pandemic restrictions, so we will adapt by:

  • Offering interactive question and answer forums on some questions prior to the business meeting
  • Creating a virtual Mission Center on our website with resources from our ministry partners
  • Planning for a festive worship, learning and fellowship event later in the year.

Although the event is online, there is a registration fee. In fact, the fees will not cover all of the costs of our meeting. While we do not have to rent space and provide meals, we are leasing the virtual meeting platform and technical personnel to manage the meeting. We are also purchasing audio visual equipment that we can use years into the future, instead of hiring equipment and crew each year.

[ Watch this space for the Assembly live stream.]

This Assembly in sacred cyberspace is just one more example of how the Synod staff, rostered ministers and congregations have adapted our ministries to the “new abnormal” of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m inspired by the ways that congregations and leaders have pivoted to online ministry. Now the Synod Office is stretching to host an online Assembly that will create community while keeping everyone safe during this ongoing public health emergency,” says Bishop Patricia A. Davenport.

Click a heading below to see more.

One-day business meeting Saturday, April 24.

Online, interactive meeting.

All congregations can register an additional youth/young adult voting member.

Register early: Until March 5, the cost is $110 per person. March 5-26, cost increases to $140.

All registrations must be received and payments postmarked by March 26. There will be no late or “at the door” registration.

ASSEMBLY DOCUMENTS

The Assembly will feature a one-day, Saturday business session

All presentations, floor discussions, and voting will take place online

You can attend from the comfort of your home.

Two-tiered registration: Register early by March 5 and save.

Voting members will need computer/internet access and a unique email address.

Some presentations will be available before the business meeting for viewing or discussion.

We plan to offer an in-person worship, fellowship, and learning event later in the year when it is safe to gather in groups again.

About our logo: Designer Katie Simbala says that “I used some paint brushes, thinking of God as the artist. [God] doesn’t change, but the works of [God’s] hands do. So in changing times, there is uncertainty. I imagined that every once in a while the artist would need to clean his brush. Maybe these changing times are just a paint blot in the grand scheme of it all.”

Registration Information

Registration is open to rostered ministers of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod and the voting members selected by each congregation. (See technology requirements below before registering.)

Due to the online assembly, there will be no visitor registrations. The Assembly will be live-streamed for non-voting members and guests on this webpage.

Fees

For our 2021 Synod Assembly, the registration fees are as follows:
Early Bird Registration: Now through March 5 — $110
Registration: March 6 through March 26 — $140

IMPORTANT: There will be no late registrations accepted past March 26 due the need to set up security codes and relay voting information prior to the event.

FEES & FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE: The Assembly Planning Team and Synod Staff strive hard to keep costs down as much as possible. Although the 2021 Assembly fee is greatly reduced from that of an on-site event, we understand it is still significant. Some individuals may question what costs are associated with a virtual event. Some of the major items your registration fee covers include the use of Lumi’s voting software, purchase of new technological equipment needed to host the online event, and additional tech staff to support the event.

This year we are offering a two-tiered approach to registration and encourage you to register early to keep your costs down. The greatest benefit to congregations is to register by the early bird deadline of March 5, 2020. Those who register later will pay higher fees. We invite you to join us as we strive to be good stewards in all things. We thank you for your partnership.

We offer limited financial assistance, when possible, for lay voting members.
You can apply for assistance at this link:

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FORM

Please read the Technology Requirements (below) before registering.

REGISTER NOW

Voting Member Certification Form

After Registration

MATERIALS: No later than April 10, the detailed agenda, the bulletin of reports, video reports, election information, worship materials and more will be posted. Voting members, please be sure you have read all these materials PRIOR to Assembly and printed out anything you wish to have in hand during the event.

CREDENTIALS: Voting members will receive their voter login information from us via email by April 16.
This will be emailed to the address you registered with.
If you do not receive your access code by the end of day April 16 please contact Cynta Outterbridge at 267-323-3742 or coutterbridge@sepa.org.

ACCESS FOR INDIVIDUALS WITHOUT VOICE OR VOTE:
The event will live streamed on YouTube, Facebook and our Synod Website. Links will be posted on the Assembly site.

EQUIPMENT: Our meeting platform is Internet-based and requires the use of a desktop or laptop computer. Mobile devices and tablets are not supported.

  • Computers can be Windows PC’s, Apple Macs, or Chromebooks.
  • Your computer must have a microphone, speakers, camera, and reliable Internet connection.
  • It is highly recommended that each person have earphones with a microphone, or a headset.
  • The meeting platform works with the following web browsers:
  • If you do not have these things, please speak to your pastor about possible solutions.

Each registrant must have:

  • An email address unique to them, which is used as your authentication credential for the meeting. Two registrants cannot share an email address.
  • If you need a unique address, we suggest creating one in Google Gmail (https://www.gmail.com)

TRAINING & TECHNOLOGICAL ASSISTANCE:  Closer to the event, the Assembly site will feature training materials including video tutorials and printable guides for voting members. 

  • A live voting member orientation and practice voting session will be held at a date to be announced. We ask that all voting members attend this session.  
  • During the event, the Synod will staff a Helpdesk phone line available to provide technological assistance as needed.

Nominations Needed for Synodical Positions

The SEPA Synod’s Nominating Committee is currently looking for help as we seek to raise up new leaders from across our synod. We are looking for qualified persons, both clergy and lay, to serve as nominees for the election at the SEPA Synod Assembly on April 23-24, 2021.

This year we have over 30 positions to fill and we will need your help in identifying qualified and gifted lay members and clergy that are willing to serve. We are asking you to contemplate and pray about who you think would be effective and called to the positions listed below. If you think of someone, approach them, talk to them about why you want to nominate them and ask if they would be willing. If they are willing give them the nomination form (linked below) and have them follow the instructions for nomination.  We ask you to keep in mind that we are a diverse synod and we want our leadership to reflect that in age, ethnicity,  and those whose primary language is other than English.

Please submit names of prospective nominees as soon as possible, but before February 15, 2021.

The positions to be filled are below:

Synod Council – Synod Council serves as the board of directors of the synod. They meet 5 to 6 times per year and serve as the legislative authority between meetings of the synod assembly.

Open seats:

  • Synod Council, lay woman – Young Adult Representative, term ending 2022
  • Synod Council, lay man – Young Adult Representative, term ending 2022

 (Young Adult – between the ages of 18 and 30 at time of election or appointment)

To be filled from last year, 2020 Assembly not held:

  • 3 clergy, terms ending 2023
  • 1 lay woman, Chester Conference representative, term ending 2023
  • 1 lay woman, Lower Bucks Conference representative, term ending 2023
  • 1 lay man, Lower Montgomery Conference representative, term ending 2023
  • 1 lay woman at large, term ending 2023
  • 1 lay man at large, term ending 2023

Current positions to be filled, 2021 Assembly:

  • 3 clergy, terms ending 2024
  • 1 lay man, Central Philadelphia Conference representative, term ending 2024
  • 1 lay woman, Upper Bucks Conference representative, term ending 2024
  • 1 lay woman at large, term ending 2024
  • 1 lay man at large, term ending 2024
  • 1 lay woman youth representative, term ending 2023
  • 1 lay man youth representative, term ending 2023

(Youth – under the age of 18 at the time of election or appointment)

 Synod Vice President  – In addition to these positions, the Assembly will also be electing a Vice President for a term ending 2025.  The Vice President shall be a lay person, who is a voting member of a congregation of our synod.  According to the Constitution, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod,

S9.05.              The Nominating Committee shall nominate at least one person for vice president only if there is an incumbent; otherwise the Nominating Committee shall nominate at least two persons for vice president.   Additional nominations may be made from the floor.

 The Committee on Discipline – specifically considers the discipline of rostered ministers, officers, congregations, and members of congregations.  The process of discipline is described in detail in Chapter 20 of the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  The Committee on Discipline does not hold regular meetings.  The members of this committee serve on an “as needed” basis.  Members serve for one six year term.

Committee on Discipline:

  • 2 ministers of Word and Sacrament, term ending 2026
  • 1 lay man, term ending 2026
  • 1 lay woman, term ending 2026

The Consultation Committee – seeks to resolve disagreements within congregations on “substantive” issues.  “When there is disagreement between or among factions within a congregation on a substantive issue which cannot be resolved by the parties, members of the congregation may petition the synod bishop for consultation after informing the president of the Congregation Council of their intent to do so.”  The Consultation Committee does not hold regular meetings.  The members of this committee serve on an “as needed” basis.  Members serve for one six year term.

Consultation Committee

  • 2 Ministers of Word and Sacrament, term ending 2022
  • 2 Ministers of Word and Sacrament, term ending 2024
  • 1 lay man, term ending 2022
  • 1 lay man, term ending 2024
  • 1 lay woman, term ending 2022
  • 1 lay woman, term ending 2024

Churchwide Assembly positions –  August 8 – 12, 2022 is the date of the Churchwide Assembly in Columbus, OH.  Our Synod is to send a total of 16 voting members to the CWA.  The Bishop and the Vice President are two of that number.  In addition to them we have the following positions:

  • 4 positions for Rostered Ministers
  • 4 positions for Lay Man
  • 4 positions for Lay Woman

To ensure diversity in ethnicity, language, and age at the CWA, we also are to have

  • 1 additional Rostered Minister that is a Person of Color or whose primary language is other than English
  • 1 additional Lay Youth or Young Adult, that is, a person who is 30 or under at the time of election or appointment.

Nominees for ELCA Church Council  SEPA Synod is in the rotation to put forward nominees to serve on the ELCA Church Council.  The Synod Assembly needs to send 2 nominees to stand for election to the Church Council at the 2022 Churchwide Assembly, where one of them will be elected to serve.

  • 2 Rostered Ministers

If you identify anyone wishing to be nominated for a position please use the nomination form below and submit it by February 15, 2021. We appreciate you taking time and care as you submit nominations for consideration by the synod council and nominating committee.  By submitting a nomination form it does not guarantee a nomination.

The Nominating Committee requires all nominees submit a digital photo of themselves and respond to the following questions – (1) List your top five spiritual gifts and/or personal gifts you would bring to the position if elected, and (2) How have you used these gifts in service to the church and your work?

A digital photo and response to the questions are required for a nominating form to be considered complete. Nominating forms submitted without the required information will not be accepted and will not be placed in nomination.

Completed nominating forms, and answers to the “spiritual and personal gifts” question, should be sent to: Pr. Joseph Klinger, Nominating Committee Chairperson

Digital photos must be sent to:

Ms. Cynta Outterbridge
Database Manager
Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod
coutterbridge@sepa.org

Please note:

  • Those nominated must be active members of congregations of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod.
  • As always, we seek a diversity of candidates.
  • Before suggesting a person, ask whether the person is willing to serve if elected.
  • The Nominating Committee is not required to place in nomination the name of any person suggested.
  • Except for the congregations of the officers and the youth and young adult representatives, two people from the same congregation may not serve on the Synod Council at the same time. The Synod Council may make exceptions to this requirement to promote greater diversity and/or inclusivity.
  • In light of the level of responsibility and influence of the following positions, it is our practice that a person may serve as one of the following at a time: Synod Council Member, Conference Dean, or Member of the Candidacy Committee. A person serving in any of these roles may stand for election or appointment to another, but if chosen must resign their current position.

SA 2021 Nomination Letter

2021 Nomination Form Fillable

Early Bird Registration Deadline

March 5, 2021

Deadline for Bulletin of Reports & Video Report Submissions

March 12, 2021

Deadline for Anniversary Celebrants Submissions

March 12, 2021

Final Registration Deadline

Note:  There will be no late registrations accepted past this date due the need to set up access codes and relay voting information prior to the event.)

March 26, 2021

Deadline for Reference and Counsel Submissions 

March 27, 2021

Video Tutorials Posted for Synod Assembly Orientation

March 31, 2021

Board of Reports & Video Reports Posted to Website

April 9, 2021

Resolutions Posted to the Website

April 9, 2021

Online Synod Assembly Orientation

To Be Announced

Synod Assembly

April 24, 2021

According to the Synod Constitution, the Synod Assembly shall include “a minimum of two lay members elected by each congregation related to the synod, one of whom shall be male and one of whom shall be female.” (S7.21c) In addition, the Synod Council is charged by the constitution to “establish a formula to provide additional lay representatives from congregations on the basis of number of members in the congregation.” (S7.21c)

“In addition to the voting members to Synod Assemblies established by the constitutional provisions, each congregation may send as one additional voting member a confirmed youth/young adult up to the age of 25 who is a voting member of their congregation.” (From a resolution passed by the 2008 Synod Assembly)


The following congregations with more than 2,000 baptized members (2020 statistics) are allocated two additional lay voting members (total four) plus one youth/young adult voting member:

  • Trinity, Lansdale


The following congregations with more than 800 but less than 2,000 baptized members (2020 statistics) are allocated one additional lay voting member (total three) plus one youth/young adult voting member:

  • Calvary, West Chester
  • Gloria Dei, Huntingdon Valley
  • Good Shepherd, Southampton
  • Grace, Royersford
  • New Hanover, Gilbertsville
  • Messiah, Downingtown
  • Reformation, Media
  • St. Andrew, Audubon
  • St. Andrew, Perkasie
  • St. John, Sumneytown
  • St. Luke, Devon
  • St. Mark, Pennsburg
  • St. Matthew, Chester Springs
  • St. Matthew, Perkasie (Keller’s Church)
  • St. Matthew, Springfield
  • St. Michael, Unionville
  • St. Paul, Doylestown
  • St. Paul, Exton
  • St. Paul, Telford
  • Upper Dublin, Ambler


The following bi-lingual congregations are allocated an additional lay voting member (total three) plus one youth/young adult voting member:

  • New Creation, Philadelphia;
  • Tabor, Philadelphia;
  • St. Petri-Hope, Philadelphia;
  • Immanuel, Philadelphia (Somerton).


The following congregations with significant numbers of baptized persons of color and/or persons whose primary language is other than English are allocated an additional lay voting member (total three) plus one youth/young adult voting member:

  • Christ, Philadelphia (30th & Diamond);
  • Emanuel, Philadelphia;
  • Grace, Philadelphia (West);
  • New Life Ministries, Philadelphia (West);
  • Mediator, Philadelphia;
  • Prince of Peace, Philadelphia;
  • Reformation, Philadelphia;
  • Spirit and Truth, Yeadon;
  • St. Mark, Philadelphia;
  • St. Peter, Philadelphia (West Oak Lane);
  • Tabernacle, Philadelphia;
  • Trinity, Philadelphia (Germantown).


Other congregations not listed above all reported less than 800 baptized members and do not have significant numbers of members who are persons of color or whose primary language is other than English (2017 statistics). These congregations are allocated two (2) lay voting members, one male and one female plus one youth/young adult voting member.

ROSTERED MINISTERS AND LAY VOTING MEMBERS: We recommend that the pastor or a church official register voting members. Your contingent can be registered at once as a group by indicating the number of members in the box next to Early Bird or Regular registration. Full information must be entered for each registrant; no 'placeholder' registrations can be accepted. Remember: Each person with voice and/or vote must have a unique email address. (See "Technology Requirements" above.)

The pastor and/or council president must submit the Voting Member Certification Form for each individual. The form is mailed to Cynta Outterbridge at the Synod Office.

You may choose to pay by credit card using our secure payment processing system, or select the "Bill Me Later" option to submit a check. You will receive a confirmation email. Please allow this email to serve as your invoice.
Because of recent postal system delays, please make sure your payment is postmarked by March 26, 2021 to guarantee receipt at the Synod by Assembly.
Mail your check payable to SEPA Synod to the address below:

Finance Office
Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod
7241 Germantown Avenue
Wiedemann Center,
Philadelphia, PA 19119


Please read the Technology Requirements (above) before registering.

REGISTER NOW

VOTING MEMBER CERTIFICATION FORM


View these documents for instructions and tips for offering resolutions and memorials for consideration by the Assembly.


THE PURPOSE OF REFERENCE AND COUNSEL

  1. To assist the Synod Assembly in dealing with material that does not come to the Assembly through regular reports, committees, agencies, Synod Council, etc.
  2. To prepare responses so that memorials and resolutions are handled in an appropriate way by the church in light of its constitution, organization, and previous history.
  3. In response to memorials and resolutions, Reference and Counsel may exercise one of the following options as it deems appropriate:

(a) Recommend adoption.

(b) Offer a substitute.

(c) Recommend that the proposed matter not be adopted.

(d) Refer the matter to appropriate committees, boards, agencies, etc. for further consideration.

(e) Offer a synodical or Church minute of previous action as a response.

(f)  Commend the resolution.

(g) Recommend no action.

(h) Recommend or reject the distribution of materials.

 

LANGUAGE OF RESOLUTIONS AND MEMORIALS

  1. Normally, the "Whereas" clause(s) describe the issue, concern, problem, or basis of the resolution. "Whereas" material is not acted upon by the Assembly.
  2. "Resolved" clause(s) point to proposed solutions and define requested action. "Resolved" clauses should be clearly defined. What should be done? To whom should the request for action be addressed? What the action may cost and how it is to be funded? When the action should be done? To whom the results should be reported?
  3. It is important to understand that a resolution of a Synod Council can not direct the Church Council to take a specific action. Likewise, a memorial from a Synod Assembly can not order that the Churchwide Assembly vote in a particular way. A memorial, by definition, is a petition appealing for action.
  4. Basically, the best resolutions and memorials are simple and direct. They contain a minimum of adjectives and adverbs. They avoid inflammatory words and generalized statements. They clearly and accurately state facts. They are built on straightforward nouns and verbs.
  5. Good resolutions and memorials say, in essence, "please, this is why we think this is important and this is the action that we believe should be undertaken."


COMMUNICATIONS FROM SYNODS TO THE ELCA

  1. Synod Assemblies address the Churchwide Assembly through Memorials.
  2. Synod Councils address the ELCA Church Council through Resolutions.
  3. Synod Councils address churchwide units through the ELCA Church Council's Executive Committee, including forwarding actions of the Synod Assembly.
  4. Resolutions follow a more direct route than memorials, which must go to the Churchwide Assembly, and await the assembly's response. Memorials should be reserved, insofar as possible, for broader policy issues that belong in the Churchwide Assembly. By contrast, resolutions may receive more immediate attention.

NOTE: The synod in Assembly may address the synodical organization or civil authorities directly and through the Synod Council and Bishop.

REMEMBER...  ...The Synod Assembly is a democratic process involving approximately 600 voting members.