The report from Mid Council Commission II was approved by the Mid Councils Issues Committee of the 221st General Assembly (2014) Tuesday without major amendments. Only a change to the target number of synods that will remain following synod consolidation was made by the committee.
The committee settled on 10 to 12 synods that would remain post consolidation. The report recommendation was for no more than eight synods to remain after presbyteries and synods participate in a collaborative process to reinvent synods and allow some to combine over the next two years.
The committee approved nearly all the rest of the commission’s report, which calls for a new configuration of synod boundaries, drawn collaboratively; help over the next two years from MCC II members; and the formation of an administrative commission to guide synods and presbyteries that can’t or won’t complete the task before the next General Assembly in 2016.
“We have done groundbreaking work,” Committee Moderator Courtenay Wilcox told the group.
“Absolutely there was anxiety expressed, and fear of the unknown looms large,” said Ariel Mink, Mid Council Commission II co-chair. “But part of moving beyond fear is owning it. We are asking synods and presbyteries to change, but we are also asking them to be their own change agents.”
“The current synod structure was created in 1972. We were a different church then,” said MCC II member Jim Wilson. The good work that synods are doing, he said, “will survive the collaborative process we have suggested.”
Dan Saperstein, co-leader for mission and partnership for the Synod of the Sun, noted that four synods – Mid-America, Lakes and Prairies, Lincoln Trails and Southwest – have already formed partnerships and are doing ministry in creative ways, such as the Synod of Living Waters’ “Living Waters for the World” initiative.