2022 Synod Gathering

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Countdown to Synod Gathering

Good to Know

  • Participants must be fully vaccinated
  • Dates:  Thursday-Saturday, June 2-4
  • Location: Lenoir-Rhyne University, Hickory
  • Registration is closed.
  • After registering for Synod Gathering, you will receive a link by email to choose your workshops

If you have a question, contact Holly Zemke.


Thank you Lutheran Services Carolinas
for providing lunch on Friday for all attendees!

2022 Synod Gathering half-sheet Bulletin Insert _Connect

Connect with Synod Gathering!

Did you miss the registration deadline for the first-ever NC Synod Gathering? No tears! Connect with the 2022 Synod Gathering by watching the synod's website, or the synod's socials: Facebook and Instagram. And be sure to tune into the daily worship opportunities which will be live-streamed: Thursday, June 2, at 10 a.m.; Friday, June 3, at 5 p.m.; and Saturday, June 4, at 2 p.m. Find the link on our webpage.

Synod Gathering Special Guests

Introducing this year's keynote speaker and preachers.

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Jacqueline Bussie, Keynote Speaker

See Keynote Speaker Jacqueline Bussie on Thursday at 11:30 AM, and also Friday at 10:30 AM.

Dr. Jacqueline Bussie is an award-winning author, professor, theologian, public speaker, and student of life in all its messy beauty. Her most recent book Love Without Limits (2018) won three major international awards: the 2020 IAN Outstanding Religion Book of the Year Award, the 2020 IAN 3rd Place Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award, and the Reader’s Favorite Bronze Medal Award for Christian Living.  Her previous book Outlaw Christian (2016) won the 2017 Gold Medal Illumination Award for Christian Living. Jacqueline is the new Executive Director of the Collegeville Institute in Collegeville, Minnesota.
In her free time, Jacqueline loves to: read books, ride in the front car of roller coasters, take ballroom dance classes with her husband, and travel to any place she has never been before. She is a huge fan of long walks, laughter, the band Bon Iver, the smell of honeysuckle on a hot day, and her husband’s fantastic fajitas. Her favorite place to write is next to any body of water.

Meet Our Synod Gathering Preachers

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The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, ELCA Presiding Bishop

Thursday worship service

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The Rev. CeCee Mills

Friday worship service

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The Rev. Tim Smith, Bishop, NC Synod

Saturday worship service

Good News! These Hickory hotels have extended discounts for the nights of June 1-4 to those who ask for the "NC Lutheran Synod Gathering rate":

Crowne Plaza Hickory, 828.323.1000, 1385 Lenoir Rhyne Blvd. SE,  $102/night for room with two double beds. Book the Crown Plaza Hotel here.

Courtyard by Marriott Hickory, 828.267.2100; 1946 13th Avenue Drive SE, $134/night for your choice of two queen beds or one king bed. Book the Courtyard by Marriott here.

Hampton Inn Hickory, 828.624.2000, 1956 13th Avenue Drive SE,  $149/night for your choice of two queen beds or one king bed. Book the Hampton Inn here.

Hilton Garden Inn Hickory, 828.431.3000,  1320 17th Street Drive SE,  $149/night for your choice of two queen beds or one king bed. Book the Hilton Garden Inn here

Best Western Hickory, 828.323.1150,  1520 13th Avenue Drive SE, $94 interior/$92 exterior entry; your choice of two double beds or one king bed. Call to book room.

Synod Gathering Schedule (in progress)

The Synod Gathering will begin on Thursday and conclude on Saturday. Come for one day, two days, or all three!

Thursday, June 2:

7 AM  Breakfast

8-9:45 AM  Registration

9-9:30 AM  Coaching opportunity

10 AM  Opening worship

11:15 AM  Orientation

11:30 AM   Dr. Jacqueline Bussie: Three Rules Christians Should Break

12:30 PM  Bishop Eaton Time

12:30 PM  Special Lunch: Specialized Pastoral Calls

2:30-5 PM  Learning Opportunity Time, 2 1/2-hour sessions

2:30-3:30 PM  Learning Opportunity Time,  1-hour sessions

4-5 PM  Learning Opportunity Time, 1-hour sessions

5-7 PM  Dinner at LR or on your own

7-9 PM  50th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women Reception

9:15 PM - Evening compline

Friday, June 3:

7 AM  Breakfast

8 AM  Registration opens for Friday-only or Friday/Saturday participants

8:15 AM  Morning Walk

9 AM  Morning prayer

9:30 AM  Bishop Tim time

10:30 AM  Dr. Jacqueline Bussie: Love Without Limits

11:30 AM  Bishop Eaton Time

12:15 PM  Lunch - Provided by Lutheran Services Carolinas

2-4:30 PM  Learning Opportunity Time, 2 1/2-hour sessions

2-3 PM  Learning Opportunity Time, 1-hour sessions

3:30-4 PM  Learning Opportunity Time, 1-hour sessions

5 PM  Worship, Farewell & Godspeed for Deacon Tammy Jones West

6:30 PM  TJW Retirement Reception: BBQ Picnic, food truck desserts, games

Saturday, June 4:

7 AM  Breakfast

8 AM  Registration opens for Saturday-only participants

8:15 AM  Morning Walk

8:30 AM  Morning Prayer

9-11:30 AM  Learning Opportunity Time, 2 1/2-hour sessions

9-10 AM  Learning Opportunity Time, 1-hour sessions

10:30-11:30 AM  Learning Opportunity Time, 1-hour sessions

11:30 AM  Lunch/Bible study by groups

11:30 AM  Special Lunch with Synod Storytellers

2 PM  Closing Worship

Synod Gathering Learning Opportunities

There will be two and a half hours each day to attend your choice of workshops and interactive discussions around an array of compelling topics. Some are an hour long (so you might sign up for two) and others will fill the entire time.

NOTE: A link to the sign up form will be emailed to everyone who has completed early registration, on April 27, and again on May 17 after the final day of registration.


Coaching for Rostered and Lay Leaders, and Teams:  The What, Why, and How of Engaging Coaches for Congregational Health    Rostered and lay leaders, engage with Heidi Kleine to learn how the ELCA and NC Synod coaching programs can benefit you, your leaders, and your congregation. Presented by:  Heidi Kleine | Thursday, 4 – 5 pm

Walking the Camino de Santiago/The Way of St. James    For 1000 years, the traditional resting place of St. James the Apostle in Compostela de Santiago, Spain has been drawing pilgrims from around the world.  Most pilgrims walk west through Spain or north out of Portugal, covering 10-20 miles each day, staying at pilgrim hostels along the way, attending mass on occasion, and forming a unique community of peregrinos.   Learn more about being a pilgrim in the 21st century and how it can change your journey through life.  Presented by: The Rev. John Mouritsen | Thursday: 2:30-3:30 pm and Friday: 2-3 pm

Annual Roadmap: Goal Setting for Congregations    Presented by:  Heidi Kleine | Thursday: 2:30 – 3:30 pm

Opening the Doors to ALL    Just how open is your church to growth? This workshop is intended to equip and challenge leaders to look at all aspects of the church they are serving and explore creative means of welcoming others.  Presented by: The Rev. Kenneth Saurman | Thursday: 2:30-3:30 pm, Friday: 3:30-4:30 pm, and Saturday: 9-10 am

Creating a Culture of Generosity    Ministry is exhausting and leads to burnout when the focus is on a lack of funds. Creating a generous culture is possible, but tends to not be the model we have in most of our congregations today.  This workshop will cover the three key steps in leading to a culture of generosity---effective congregation council, a vision for the future, and the stewardship program.  Presented by: The Rev. Mike Ward | Thursday: 2:30-5 pm and Friday: 2-4:30 pm

Church and Civic Engagement - A Conversation about the new ELCA Social Statement    The ELCA is in the early stages of drafting a social statement on the role of the Church and Civic Engagement.  Dr. Mindy Makant and Pastor Rhodes Woolly will facilitate a listening session on behalf of the Social Statement Task Force; join us to share your thoughts, questions, and/or concerns. (Limit of 30 participants)  Presented by: Deacon Mindy Makant, PhD and The Rev. Dr. Rhodes Woolly | Thursday: 2:30-3:30 pm and 4–5 pm, Friday: 2-3 pm

Long Term Ministry and Adapting to Culture    Rostered Leaders: What are the benefits of staying in one place for more than 8 years? Congregation members: How can you foster a healthy environment to host a long term ministry? Come discover the benefits and downfalls for long term ministry, together. (Limit of 40 participants)  Presented by: Deacon Holly Shipley | Friday:  2 -3 pm

End of Life Doulas--Supporting Pastoral and Congregational Ministries to the Dying    An end of life doula brings a set of skills to assist the dying and their families that is different from physicians, hospice, and pastoral care. The end of life doula walks as a companion, step-by-step, with the dying to ensure that sacred space is held so that the dying may move on in the next phase of God's eternal living with grace, peace, and surrounded by the depth of Love.  Presented by: The Rev. Peter Brown | Thursday: 2:30 - 5 pm, Friday:  2 - 4:30 pm, Saturday:  9 - 11:30 am

Christ Online—A Virtual Ministry Coming Out of COVID    Take your online worship beyond merely a spectator experience, to include welcoming virtual visitors, Q&A, the sharing of links, and invitation to prayer. Alexis will share her congregation’s success in developing an authentic online community not restricted by geography—a launch pad for expansion into new worship, study, and fellowship opportunities. (Limit of 20-25 participants)  Presented by: Alexis Williams | Thursday: 2:30 - 3:30 pm

Two Congregations Bridging Racial Divisions    Come hear the journey of two neighboring Christian congregations in Matthews, NC as they experienced the joy and blessings of bridging the racial divide. Participants will have access to the materials used and will experience a Coming to the Table Circle.  Presented by: Members of Morning Star Lutheran and Jonesville AME Zion | Thursday: 2:30 - 5 pm, Friday:  2 - 4:30 pm

How To Find Happiness and Meaning in Our Flat, Interconnected World    Have you been feeling like life’s just a meaningless treadmill, felt burned out, and even isolated?  We’ll see how we have become victims of our globalized economic system and been made by our internet connections to march to the beat of the quest for self-fulfillment.  Based on insights from the famed Lutheran thinker Søren Kierkegaard and the latest research on the human brain, you’ll learn how to find more happiness and meaning in your life.   Presented by: The Rev. Mark Ellingsen | Thursday: 2:30 - 3:30 pm, Friday:  2 -3 pm, Saturday:  9-10 am

The Birth of Mirth: Laughter Is Good Medicine!    Humor is therapeutic and can be powerfully healing! It is essential for well-being and wholeness. It connects us to each other and helps us develop a more positive perspective. If you would like a chance to smile, breathe, and laugh, this session is for you!  We will engage in some simple breathing exercises and explore some strategies on how to live into a more joyful life and ministry.  Presented by: The Rev. Adrienne Martin | Thursday: 4 - 5 pm

Intentional Ministry: Not Just for Interim Time    Often associated only with high conflict in a congregation, interim ministry is useful in any setting where change and transition is being addressed. This workshop will introduce the five process tasks and focus points of the interim ministry training and then explore application and benefits in the settings of the participants.  Presented by: The Rev. Dr. Keith Copeland | Thursday: 2:30 - 3:30 pm, Friday:  3:30 - 4:30 pm, Saturday:  10:30 - 11:30 am

Empowering Mission through Endowment Ministry    Learn how you can establish and grow an Endowment Ministry that will help to support a culture of generosity in your congregation and provide a stable stream of income for mission and ministry into the future. (Limit of 50)  Presented by: Stephanie Burke, ELCA Foundation Regional Gift Planner for Carolinas | Friday:  2 -3 pm, Saturday: 9-10 am

Introduction to Centering Prayer    Is your life filled with words, noise, busy-ness, and activities?  Do you ever long for a time of silence?  Do you desire or hunger for a deeper relationship with God?  The practice of Centering Prayer is a simple 'prayer of silence' that has the potential to transform the world one person at a time.  This workshop will provide a brief introduction to Centering Prayer, an opportunity to experience it, and sources for further information.  Presented by: Rev. Richard (Dick) Little | Friday:  during breakfast in the Cromer Seminar Room for those interested in learning more which might prime the pump for the workshop on Saturday, Saturday: 9 – 10 am

Ministry in the Community College    You likely have a community college near you. Like your congregation, the community college changes lives. This workshop explores ways you can get involved in your community college, grow personally, and share your talents in a very diverse community.   Presented by: Pastor Malcom Lerch | Thursday: 4 - 5 pm, Friday:  3:30 - 4:30 pm

Digital Ministry: 22 in ‘22    Throughout the pandemic, we learned the importance of sacred online space. As ministry continued through livestream and Zoom, it became apparent that social media isn’t just a bulletin board, but a destination for ministry. How do we move forward with all the online platforms and possibilities with limited time and resources? Join NC Synod office communications team for 22 digital ministry ideas to try in 2022.  Presented by: Angel Owens and Catherine Fink | Thursday: 4 - 5 pm, Friday: 3:30 - 4:30 pm, Saturday: 10:30 - 11:30 am

An Introduction to Growing Young    Join me for a quick dive into the six essential strategies to help young people discover and love your church.  Presented by: Tammy Jones West | Saturday: 10:30 - 11:30 am

Grow Giving Through the ELCA’s Congregational Financial Assessment    Learn about the free Resourceful Servants Congregational Financial Assessment tool and website, through which your congregation can help grow its benefactors’ confidence. Through engagement in a healthy, proactive review of your financial systems and utilizing best practices that include accountability, transparency, and professionalism, your congregation will signal to donors that it is worthy of donations. (Limit 40 participants)  Presented by: Steve Oelschlager | Thursday: 4 - 5 pm, Friday:  2 -3 pm

Be the Light Training    The Lutheran Services Carolinas Be the Light Congregation Leader Training is an opportunity to learn what it takes to run a five-week appeal in your congregation. Congregation pastors and members are encouraged to attend to learn more about efforts to expand and enhance services for our neighbors across the state. (Limit of 25-30 participants)  Presented by: Heidi S. Rixman & Emily Dubay, Lutheran Services Carolinas | Saturday:  10:30 - 11:30 am

Crucial Conversations—Mastering Our Stories    We are all faced with Crucial Conversations that change our lives. I have  often thought that we are not even aware of our own unconscious tendency to look at others through the stories we tell about them. When we see those who are different than us, we tend to see a fact and then develop a story about what we see - more often negative. Learning to master our stories opens us up to see others more authentically and honestly. It allows us to celebrate the diversity in the world and rejoice in it.  Presented by: Marion R Bish | Friday:  2 - 4:30 pm, Saturday:  9 - 11:30 am

Lutherans and Welcoming the Stranger-What is Happening Now    For 80 years Lutherans have been leaders in welcoming people who have been forced from their homes. We have been active all along, but particularly now we are using our skills and working with our hearts to bring people into safe situations. Find out which churches are active,  how they are changing lives, and the levels at which you can participate.  Presented by: Virginia (Ginny) Hultquist | Friday:  2 -3 pm and 3:30 – 4:30pm

Learning the Boarding School Story    Explore the Indigenous Learning Initiative with the NC Synod's Indigenous Learning Team and discuss one of the learning topics together.  Presented by: Indigenous Learning Team | Saturday: 10:30 – 11:30 am

Listening to Understand our Children, Youth & Families Today   Join us to be part of a strategic synod-wide listening campaign to better understand how our CYF ministries can align with the needs and desires of families today.  Presented by:  Carissa Abraham and Kelly Marciales | Saturday: 9 - 11:30 am

Organizing for Mission Network: Getting Connected    The Organizing for Mission is a network of pastors, laity, organizers, non-profit leaders, and seminaries using the arts and skills of community organizing to develop and redevelop gospel-centric communities that act for the sake of the world. This workshop will orient participants to some tools of community organizing for ministry, share resources, present opportunities to connect to future events, and answer questions about the OFMN program of the ELCA.  Presented by: Kelly Marciales | Thursday: 2:30 – 5:00 pm, Friday: 2:00 – 4:30 PM

All Creation Sings    Hand in hand with Evangelical Lutheran Worship, this supplement invites us to expand our prayer and song, joining our voices with the praise, and sighs, of the whole creation God so marvelously made. Come for an introduction to two liturgies of Holy Communion with new musical settings, a Service of Word and Prayer designed especially for contemplative worship, more than seventy-five new prayers and liturgical forms for diverse occasions and circumstances, and approximately 200 hymns and songs, many of them newly created over the last fifteen years, supporting the church year and a wide range of topics  Presented by: John Jahr | Friday: 2 - 4:30 pm

Prayer as a Launching Pad for Proclamation     This workshop will teach three prayer models and invite participants to share them with their home congregations. It will also give opportunity for joining the Prayer Team as we create together a way to increase the faith practice of prayer in all aspects of synod life.  Presented by: The NC Synod Prayer Team | Thursday: 2:30 – 5 pm

The Changing Realities of Leadership in the NC Synod    Adaptation is a critical part of the kingdom of God. In this season as we ease out of the pandemic, it is clear that leadership needs to look and function in a way that fits with our reality. We will look at how the changing times affect three areas: candidacy, call process, and lay leadership. This will include a look at the landscape through the lenses of trends, finances, and the mission field.  Presented by:  Michael DeNise and the Reverends CeCee Mills & Sara Ilderton | Friday: 2 – 4:30 pm

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