Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod

On a rainy Wednesday (we needed it) August 10th,  I met with Bishop Girlinghouse,  Pastor Jean Devoll_Donaldson, Ernie Miller, Peter Kumpe, Janice Airhart and Pastor Stacey Steger to continue the strategic planning process for the AR-OK Synod of the ELCA. Pastor Seger hosted us at her church, Christ the King, which is a vibrant congregation with many service/outreach activities.  It’s strange, but even though it’s just Bentonville, I’d never visited there before. (By way of an aside, Christ the King has an active group of riders, so I left my Chrome Diva card with Pastor Seger so that I might get connected to, and ride with her parishoners).

 We had lots of work to get done during our meeting, but we first began with a devotion lead by Ernie on the topic of growth and discipleship of lay leaders, which morphed, at points, into a discussion of the impact of social media on relationships with other people and groups/organizations.  Our goal that day was to brainstorm ideas and the questions they raised for a number of specific topics, such as Lutheran Identity, Growth in Discipleship, Lay Leadership, and Ecumenical Relations and Partnerships .  For example, we brainstormed about ways to better communicate which led to questions about technology, staffing, formats, etc.  Bishop was deliberately inclusive, seeking responses from every member of the group.

One of the best things about our taskforce is the balance of experience, background and lay leader vs. pastors, which gave fullness to our discussions.  We worked through lunch because of Bishop’s commitment to the time we’d set and we accomplished quite a bit.  At the end of our discussion, we divided the various topics into workgroups of two people.  Each group is to distill our conversation/ideas into 3 action items along with questions we might pose to congregations for further guidance.  In this way, we can obtain feedback before actually drafting the strategic plan.  Though it requires time and effort, participating in the taskforce feels like a great way to give back to the church, and to think about what we do, and how we do it in a careful, systematic way.  Hopefully, the end result will be a plan that responds to the needs of the church and the communities we serve.