August 8, 2017
Dear Siblings in Christ,
As part of the process of preparing to elect a bishop, the Synod Council appointed a ‘Synod Profile Team’ to gather some data and generate an overall profile of the synod. Much like a congregation generates a Ministry Site Profile when preparing to call a pastor, the desire was to generate a profile that would give a ‘big picture’ of the Florida-Bahamas Synod.
The profile was developed in two parts. First, the demographic data was developed, with help from Ken Inskeep and the office of Research and Evaluation of the ELCA. This demographic data was released on June 19 to the synod via the E-spirit, was shared on Facebook, and was posted to the synod web site. The second part of the profile involved collecting qualitative responses to a survey, which was released through E-spirit (which goes out to over 3,000 people and was opened weekly by 1,000 people), and through Facebook. The survey was active from June 19-July 22, 2017. In total 202 responses were collected from the survey. That data was collected by Ken Inskeep’s office, and was summarized and analyzed in two summary documents. One document summarized all the responses. The second document distinguished the data between responses from rostered leaders (pastors and deacons) and non-rostered leaders. The data collected from the survey combined with the demographic data, together comprise the “Synod Profile of the Florida-Bahamas Synod” for 2017.
The complete profile is now available for you to view and review.
Included in the Synod Profile section of the Bishop’s Election page are the survey summaries, as well as the direct responses to the survey questions from which the summaries were drawn. The demographic data is also included on that page. It will be helpful to also take note of the recorded conversation “What’s a Bishop to Do?” between Cheryl Stuart and Bishop Lohrmann, available on that same page but also available HERE (the first 19 minutes refer to the role of Bishop).
What can YOU do with this information?
As you review this profile, prayerfully and with reflection, you may want to ask yourself these questions for the sake of discernment and learning:
- What surprises you about this information? What doesn’t surprise you?
- What do you learn about the mission and ministry of the Florida-Bahamas Synod? What questions do you still have?
- What did not show up as priorities, challenges, or priorities that you would have expected?
- What do these responses tell you about what is meant by ‘the synod’? What would have changed if there was a stronger distinction between ‘the office of the bishop’ and ‘congregations’?
- What do these responses tell you about this synod’s expectations of a bishop?
Please work with your congregational leadership about providing at least one printed copy of the entire survey results to be posted in your congregation, and make mention of the survey in your upcoming congregational communication.
As you continue in prayer and discernment about the mission and ministry of this synod, and the role of the bishop in the mission and ministry, consider these possibilities for further discussion and conversation:
- Gather with synod assembly voting members and rostered leaders in your area to discuss the material. Ask yourselves what this information says about the next bishop.
- Share the information with your council and church leadership, and ask yourselves what the information tells you about your own congregation’s mission and ministry, and your congregation’s connection and involvement in the mission and ministry of the whole synod.
- Share the information in an adult Bible Study, and ask yourselves what God may be saying about God’s mission and vision for the church today.
- Pastors considering their openness to the role of bishop may use this information in their own prayer and discernment and in conversation with mentors and coaches.
- In your own prayer and devotions, use this information to guide your prayers for your congregational leaders, other pastors in your conference, the synod staff and the overall work of the synod.
A great word of thanks goes to the synod profile team for their faithful work in this process– Mr. Tom O’Reilley (Synod Council member), Pr. Jon Keiser, Deacon Jennifer Arnold, Deacon Jessica Bunger, Pr. Rusty May, Pr. Jose Lebron and Phyllis Wade. We also wish to thank Mr. Ken Inskeep and Dann Taylor at the ELCA Churchwide office who responded to our questions with grace and attention. We appreciate the professional work of the synod staff in this time of transition, especially as they assist the Executive Committee of the Synod Council in shepherding the many tasks necessary for the election of the bishop at our upcoming Assembly.
And last, but not least, we give thanks for you–for your prayers, your support, your suggestions, and your willingness to be part of God’s work that we try to here in the territory of Florida and the Bahamas.
If you have any questions about these documents, please don’t hesitate to contact the synod staff at 813-876-7660.
On behalf of Synod Council