The Synod Assembly convened March 16-18, 2017 at the Weber Center in Adrian, Michigan.
The brief administrative business of the Assembly included updates on the Mobile Health Fair, and Mission to the USA, and the Welcome Refugees initiative:
Melanie Shoop reported that she plans to finalize soon the 2017 MHF team. The fairs calendar is filling up, and there are only few openings remain.
Eileen Best reported on the 2017 Mission to the USA program (10/12 – 11/4) and its three year emphasis on Christian-Muslim Relations, starting with welcoming International Partners from Indonesia, the largest Muslim populated country. Applications from interested congregations are currently accepted.
The Assembly welcomed a new staff, Rev. Kathy Angi, Coordinator for the synod’s Welcome Refugees Network. Kathy expressed her commitment to help complete the Welcome Refugees initiative and resource Presbyteries and congregations on issues related to refugees. The Synod of the Covenant had allocated $100,000 for 2016 to support congregations with the relocation of refugees from Syria and Iraq, and we have so far awarded five grants ($25,000), and hope to award the remaining 15 grants totaling $75,000 in 2017.
The Assembly also approved a Child Protection Policy as required by the 222nd General Assembly (2016) which required the same of every council. As directed by the Synod Assembly, Timothy Chon, Moderator, appointed a task group to review and propose changes to the Bylaws and Manual of Operations.
The Retreat portion of the Assembly included a presentation on the Doctrine of Discovery, also known as the Christian Doctrine of Discovery. The history of that doctrine dates back to the Papal Bull issued by Pope Alexander VI on May 4, 1493, and other subsequent Papal Bulls that called for and legitimized the conquests and colonization in Africa and the Americas, and laid the foundation for dominating and exploiting native peoples. The principle has since been adopted and codified into law in the United States.
The Assembly also discussed and reflected on the book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong. Worship celebrations, presentations, and the book study were aligned with the synod’s identity as a Just-Peace Church, which was identified and adopted by the Synod Assembly in November 2015.