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Synod Assembly 2019

Synod Assembly 2019

June 6-8

at Embassy Suites, Kissimmee


Click HERE to Register for Assembly

Click HERE to learn more about this year’s Assembly Service Project

2018 Assembly Agenda (as of April 3, 2018)


Assembly Theme: Grounded in the Gospel

“I came that [you] may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b)

Abundant life is life for the sake of the other.  Abundant life is more than material and social achievement or accomplishment.  Abundant life flows from a deep rootedness in truths that strengthen and sustain life in the midst of changing seasons. Abundant life results in growth, vitality, fruit, and generosity. Abundant life is bold, creative, innovative and open to possibilities.  Abundant life embraces and engages all aspects of diversity. Jesus came so that we might have life…and have it abundantly.

In our baptismal liturgy, we hear these words: “By water and the Word, God delivers us from sin and death and raises us to new life in Jesus Christ.  We are united with all the baptized in the one body of Christ, anointed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and joined in God’s mission for the life of the world” (ELW, p. 227).  Rooted and grounded in this gift of life, we are called, gathered and sent through the Holy Spirit into the world.

As the gathered Assembly of the Florida-Bahamas Synod, you are invited to participate in God’s abundance as we are grounded in the Gospel.  Learn and be nourished.  Celebrate and be refreshed.  Connect and be encouraged.  Rest and be renewed.

Photo Directory

Save the date and Plan ahead

The 2019 Synod Assembly will be at the Embassy Suites in Kissimmee, from 1:00 pm on Thursday, June 6th, 2019 through Noon on Saturday, June 8th, 2019.

ATTENTION ALL ROSTERED MINISTERS with a Call or in Interim Ministry

As you know, the Florida-Bahamas Synod has provided annual Photo Directories for the last 4 years.  We hope this is a useful tool for our rostered folk – a way to put a name with a face – a way to see who is serving where – and a way to circulate current contact information.

Each photo in the directory has a ‘year’ in the top left hand corner (or no date).

  • If your picture year is 2016, 2017 or 2018 – you are all set.
  • If your picture is not in the directory, and you have a Call (either in specialized or parochial ministry) or you are active in Interim Ministry….please plan to have your picture taken at this year’s Assembly.
  • If your picture is dated 2015….or there is no date… will need to sit for a new picture for the 2019 Directory. (or not be listed in the 2019 Directory)

Bring your smile!


Hotel: Embassy Suites, Kissimmee

As of May 2, registration for Synod Assembly will be on-site on June 1 only.  

Room reservations need to be made in addition to assembly registration. All the hotel rooms reserved for the Florida-Bahamas Synod Assembly have been booked at the Embassy Suites – Lake Buena Vista.  You may be able to find rooms at the following hotels:

  • Hampton Inn & Suites Orlando – S. Lake Buena Vista – 407-396-8700.
  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Lake Buena Vista S. – 407-997-1400.
  • SpringHill Suites – Orlando Kissimmee – 407-997-1300.

If you have not registered, please contact the hotel directly for information about rooms available.

 Synod Assembly will be at the beautiful Embassy Suites Hotel in Kissimmee.  Breakfast is provided each day, and there’s a free manager’s reception each evening.  There are plenty of restaurants in the area for other meals.  There is a fitness room, a swimming pool and a video arcade.  You can find out more about the hotel hereYou can call the hotel directly (TEL: +1-407-597-4000).

Parking at the hotel is limited, so please consider carpooling with others from your area.

Print and fill out the Travel Equalization Form


Worship at Assembly

There will be multiple ways to nurture your spirit and come together around prayer, Word, Sacrament, and reflection during the Assembly.  Music will be led by a variety of excellent musicians from throughout the synod.  Worship is open to all, even those who are not registered for the assembly.

Musicians Needed: Seeking music leadership and support musicians for worship services at this year’s Synod Assembly

Song leaders, choral singers, and instrumentalists (guitar, bass, drums, strings, brass and handbells) would be desirable as volunteers during opening (Friday afternoon) and closing (Sunday morning) worship. We are also seeking a Spanish-speaking song leader. A volunteer choir will be assembled for opening worship and if you have singers in your congregation that are interested in this they will need to prepare mostly in advance (the music will be sent out by the end of April to each interested congregation).
Although we are flexible in our planning at this point, we are currently envisioning these ideal needs:
  • Opening worship: Keyboardist (to play organ parts on a synth), choir, cantor/s, brass, handbells (upper octaves only), guitar and strings.
  • Closing worship: Singers (worship band-style group), song leaders, guitar, bass, strings, percussion, etc.
Again, we are flexible on our instrumentation and will make creative use of musicians in your congregation or on your staff that would like to volunteer at the Assembly. Although we will try to find some practice time in our worship space, this time will be limited so please note that any interested musicians should be able to prepare mostly on their own, be excellent sight readers or be fluent in improvising accompaniments. If you are interested or have questions about this, please contact Rebecca Kasang (Lutheran Church of the Cross, St. Petersburg): or 727-525-8364 x228.

Assembly Chaplain

Pr. Vicki Hamilton will serve as the Assembly Chaplain.  Pr. Vicki will be available throughout the assembly for prayer and personal conversation as needed. A prayer room will be available for personal prayer and reflection.


Assembly Offering:

Part of the Assembly offering will go to the ELCA Campaign (2018 focus: leadership).  To learn more about the ELCA Campaign, CLICK HERE.

Watch this video to learn more about this year’s focus on leadership:


This year’s assembly is a Workshop Assembly.  There will be a variety of workshops offered.  Below is the ‘menu’ for this year’s workshops.  Please note that some workshops might change:

***You may register for Saturday only ($25) and attend workshops, even if you are not a voting member or able to stay for the full assembly!  Stay for as much of the day on Saturday as you want!

Workshop Menu 2018


Workshop Session A: 1:15-2:30

A.1 “What’s that You Say, Lord?” Discerning God’s Call to Us
Presenter: Rev. Dr. Ruth E. Hamilton, ELCA Region 9 Manager for Candidacy and Leadership
Description: Have you ever heard God’s voice?  God calls us through many means, and we can respond in various ways.  So how do we figure out what God is calling us to do with our lives?  Come to a workshop where we can share our questions and talk about ways of discerning and responding to God’s call.


A.2 “More than than Meets the Eye: A Closer Look at Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”
Presenter: Carol Dunn, ReconcilingWorks Chapter, Central Florida
Description: Presenters and a small panel will explain a variety of Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities; Q and A included.


A.3 Social Statement on Women and Justice Hearing
Presenter: Dr. William Rodriguez, Professor of Religious and Philosophical Ethics, Bethune Cookman University
Description: The ELCA Social Statement on Women and Justice is a document that seeks to articulate this church’s convictions on this important social issue.  In this workshop, Dr. William Rodriguez (member of the ELCA task force) will guide the group in reading and discussing the Social Statement and recording comments to be shared with the task force as it produces the final document.
Diversity, vitality


A.4 Global Mission as Accompaniment
Presenter: Companion Church leaders
Description: In the Florida-Bahamas Synod we walk alongside four national church bodies in the Caribbean – Latin America basin through our dedicated global mission teams, drawing inspiration from their witness to being Lutheran in their cultures, and sharing our faith in return. Come hear the leaders from our global companion churches speak to the ministry contexts in their countries, and explore best practices for mutual partnership in mission.
Diversity, leadership


A.5 Claiming our Strengths and Assets
Presenter: Pr. Steve Kauffman, Margo Walbolt (ALOA)
Description:  What gets people to act in community?  It starts with looking at the “half-full cup.”  Margo Walbolt helps participants see that in a congregation, asset-mapping reveals the assets or gifts of the entire faith community and highlights the interconnections among them, which in turn reveals how to utilize those assets for ministry in the congregation and in the world. Contacted for approval
Vitality, leadership


A.6 What is the ‘diaconate’?
Presenter: Michelle Collins
Description:  Since the story recorded in Acts where a team of people was selected to make sure the widows and others being neglected were being fed and served, the church has equipped and set apart some for the ministry of service, called ‘the diaconate.’  Today, we continue to find ways to ensure the ministry of the church impacts the needs of the world.  This workshop will give a brief historical and theological overview to the role of the diaconate, as well as create space for discussion and reflection on its relevance for today’s context.
Vitality, leadership


A.7 Welcoming the Stranger
Presenter: Danielle Bernard, Director of Communications, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS)
Description: Join Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service for an engaging discussion on the many opportunities for congregations to join in our shared ministry of welcoming the stranger. Learn about Circle of Welcome, a new program that goes back to our strong Lutheran roots in walking alongside refugees as they come to the U.S.; get connected to individuals isolated in immigration detention through our Visitation Ministry; and hear about ways to use your voice for advocacy, to seek justice for immigrants and refugees by engaging in grassroots actions that call for just and compassionate policies.
Diversity, Vitality


A.8 Money Doesn’t Buy Me Love (Or Does It?): Re-imagining Stewardship in the Age of Endless Consumption
Presenter: Rev. David Lose
Description: Each day, the average American is exposed to 5000 media images, most of which are designed to make you feel a sense of lack and, in response, buy more. How do we not simply combat this negative messaging but invite folks into a vivid sense of the abundance with which they have been blessed. Stewardship, from this point of view, is not about fundraising to keep our congregations going but about liberating our people to live lives of abundance and generosity.
Leadership, Vitality


A.9 “Can our Church Afford a Pastor”
Presenter: Pr. Dell and Diane Shiell
Description: We are convinced you don’t need an advanced degree in order to grasp your church’s financial position. You need accurate financial records and worship attendance records—and you need to know how to interpret them. Now, add to common sense a set of calculations and guidelines—and you have a handbook to help you understand your church’s ability to afford a full-time pastor.
Vitality, Leadership


A.10 Campus Ministry
Presenter: Sarah Locke, Campus Minister, Jacksonville
Description: How do we serve the 800k+ college students in Florida? Where can campus ministry fit into existing ministries of a congregation? Why is campus ministry vital in this time and place? At this workshop we will discuss these questions and more as we begin to dream about campus and young adult ministries in the Florida-Bahamas Synod.
Diversity, leadership, vitality


A.11 Pilgrimage: Your Sacred Journey
Presenter: Denise Baringer
Description:  Our Christian life constantly calls us to a sacred journey.   In this workshop you will learn to follow the path of the pilgrim; whether your pilgrimage is in your ordinary everyday life or to a “Pilgrim Destination”.  You will learn the seven stages of a pilgrimage; how to turn down the daily noise in your life so you can hear the word of God, and how your personal pilgrimage can transform your life.


Session B: 2:45-3:45
B.1 What if I’m Being Called to Public Ministry (Candidacy Process)
Presenter: Connie Schmucker
Description: Connie Schmucker and members of the FBSynod Candidacy Committee will help you learn about the process to become an ELCA rostered minister (pastor or deacon).  Learn about the process, consider the challenges and opportunities, listen to one another’s stories, and listen to the Spirit’s voice in your own discernment process.


B.2 Providing Care for LGBTQIA+ Youth
This workshop has been cancelled.  Instead, the following workshop will be offered:

B.2 Congregational Renewal: one congregation’s journey
Presenter: Rev. Jim Page
Description: Pr. Jim Page has guided his congregation through an intentional season of renewal using the Congregational Assessment Tool (CAT).  The CAT is a tool that guides the whole congregation through an intentional process of discernment and action that results in growth and development.  Come hear the story of one congregation’s renewed vision for mission, and consider the implications for your context.
Leadership, Vitality


B.3 What’s Love Got to Do with It?
Presenter: Steve Beumer
Description: Christians have been called to love all of God’s children, regardless!  There are “no exceptions”.  If Jesus called us to love everyone then love has everything to do with it.  What’s holding you back from the Gospel?


B.4 Global Mission as Accompaniment, pt. 2
Presenter: Companion Church leaders
Description: In the Florida-Bahamas Synod we walk alongside four national church bodies in the Caribbean – Latin America basin through our dedicated global mission teams, drawing inspiration from their witness to being Lutheran in their cultures, and sharing our faith in return. Come hear the leaders from our global companion churches speak to the ministry contexts in their countries, and explore best practices for mutual partnership in mission.
Diversity, leadership


B.5 Reformation501
Presenter: Pr. Walter Still
Description: The 500th Anniversary was an opportunity for the Spirit to re-form the Body of Christ as we gathered with our sisters and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church. This workshop will be an opportunity to share the Anniversary experiences while discerning where Christ is leading the Church.


B.6 Beer and Hymns: the fine print
Presenter: George Algozzina
Description: More and more congregations are experimenting with connecting to their community through events like “Beer and Hymns.”  George Algozzina has been leading “Beer and Hymns” in the Tampa Bay area for several years.  It has grown into an event that draws over 40 people from a variety of congregations and denominations.  But how did he do it?  What does it take to put on an event like Beer and Hymns and make it successful?  In this workshop, George will share what he’s learned about connecting with restaurants, scheduling and planning, communication, set-up and supplies, and programming.
Diversity, Vitality


B.7 diakonia
Presenter: Joel Rentz
Description: diakonia is a series of courses anyone can take to deepen their understanding of the Bible, theology, the church, and their vocation.  Come learn more about diakonia, and explore whether you are being called to deepen your faith through a season of learning.
Vitality, leadership


B.8 Put Your Passion Into Action
Presenter: Kathy Emanuelson, Thrivent Financial
Description: Learn how to put your passion into action with Thrivent Action Teams. It starts with an idea powered by your passion. Bring a volunteer team together to make an immediate impact on a cause you care about. We’ll help get you started. It’s easy!


B.9 Congregational Vitality
Presenter: Pr. Stephen Bouman, Executive Director for Domestic Mission Unit of the ELCA
Description: How do you measure whether a congregation is ‘successful’ or not?  Are membership, giving, and number of baptisms/confirmations an accurate way to report a congregation’s ministry strength?  Congregational Vitality is a way of assessing how well a community is connecting with God, with each other, and with the world around them.  Congregational Vitality frames a congregation’s ministry in different ways that create space for different conversations about growth and development.


B.10 Walking the Labyrinth: Listening to the Word of God
Presenter: Douglas Werner
Description: In this workshop you will learn to use a simple Meditation process to prepare your mind and heart to walk the Prayer Labyrinth.  With this meditative preparation, you will be able to establish an appropriate intention, question, or prayer to take into the Labyrinth.  You will then walk the Labyrinth, letting this walking meditation help loosen the grip of your willful mind, and open your intuitive, “heart knowing”.  With an open heart, you will be able to “listen” to the guidance God offers you.  As you walk out of the Labyrinth, this unfolding, Divine guidance will be the treasure you take back to share with the world.


B.11 Homeless Ministry as Congregational Ministry
Presenter: Jay Bergstresser
Description: Have you ever thought of homeless ministry as a way to revitalize your church?  As we minister to Jesus by ministering to the desperate needs of the homeless, his power flows through us.  At Resurrection in Cocoa Beach, an ongoing, year-round street outreach has gotten many members involved in hands-on ministry and has revitalized our congregation. It has also helped six homeless friends escape the street and get back into life! This workshop will teach safe, inexpensive, and transformative ways to reach out to the homeless in your community.
Diversity, Vitality


B.12 Castle Church Community Church/Brewery Tour
Meet in the Hotel lobby (be ready to relocate and go visit Castle Church’s site)
Presenter: Aaron Schmalzle
Description: The Castle Church Brewing Community invites you to experience their new location!  Meet in the hotel lobby at 2:45 to attend the first official tour for a first-hand experience of this faith community.  You will get to walk the production floor to learn how beer is made, see how intentional design and space use encourage authentic community, and gather in the Castle Church beer garden for a celebration of the Eucharist followed by a Q and A discussion. There is a $20 bus fee (due on site) for door to door transportation and refreshments will be provided.
Leadership, Vitality

Plenary: Business, Nominations and Elections

Notes about the Plenary

The agenda for the Assembly will be available in Guidebook.

StandingRules-AllAssemblies 2018

This year’s assembly will be voting for synod council positions and other committee positions, and considering the budget for the next year.


Nomination Form-2018- Fillable (works best when saved FIRST, before filling it out)

If you think you are open to be nominated from the floor at the Assembly, please come to Assembly prepared with a filled out nomination form and a picture.  If there is someone in your congregation open to being nominated from the floor, please bring their paperwork and picture to the Assembly with you.

2018 Synod Assembly Elections:

  1. Synod Council Representatives (in good standing for a three year term)
  • Southwest Mission District – Lay Female (Includes Lake, Mid Gulf, Tampa, Sun Coast, Gulf Coast & Caloosa Conferences)
  • Southeast Mission District – Lay Male (Includes Miami-Dade, Broward-Bahamas, Tradewinds & Space Coast Conferences
  • North Mission District – Clergy (Includes 1st Coast, Heart of Florida, Pinelands, Panhandle & Flagler-Volusia Conferences)
  • Youth – Male or Female – any mission district

Nominees for the youth position shall be 15-18 years of age AND be a rising 9th through 11th Grader in school at the time of election

After all the open positions on Synod Council are elected, the need for an at-large member, if any, will be identified and announced.

  1. ELCA 2019 Churchwide Assembly Voting Members – due to a reduction in the size of our voting membership, nominees will come from each Mission District as follows:
  •  Southwest Mission District – 1 Lay Female, 1 Lay Male, 1 Clergy, 1 *PCLE (Includes Lake, Mid Gulf, Tampa, Sun Coast, Gulf Coast & Caloosa Conferences)
  • Southeast Mission District – 1 Lay Female, 1 Lay Male, 1 Clergy, 1 *PCLE (Includes Miami-Dade, Broward-Bahamas, Tradewinds & Space Coast Conferences)
  • North Mission District – 1 Lay Female, 1 Lay Male, 1 Clergy, 1 *PCLE (Includes 1st Coast, Heart of Florida, Pinelands, Panhandle & Flagler-Volusia Conferences)

Each District is strongly encouraged to fill one of the lay positions with a Youth (here Youth is defined as a young person age 15 to 22).  *A person of color or language other than English.

  1. Consultation Committee 4 positions (in good standing for a six year term)
  • Two Lay                                           Male or Female
  • Two Clergy                                      Male or Female
  1. Discipline Committee 3 positions (in good standing for a six year term)
  • One Clergy                                      Male or Female
  • Two Lay                                          Male or Female

Nominations from the floor are strongly discouraged.  Please submit nominations before May 15.  The person being nominated has to agree to be nominated and has to fill out a nomination form.  A fillable nomination form can be downloaded, saved and emailed to Michelle Collins (  Please include a photo with the nomination form.

All memorials and resolutions presented at the Assembly will be referred to the Reference and Counsel Committee for action.

Fellowship and Fun

There are plenty of restaurants in the area around the hotel, and time is built into the agenda for fellowship and relaxation.  Here are a few highlights to keep in mind.

Embassy Suites restaurant/food options:

Breakfast for Embassy Suites guests is complimentary.

A la carte items are available for lunch, as well as the sit-down restaurant in the hotel.

A buffet is available in the evening for $18.

The hotel bar is open each evening.


Networking Time on Saturday Afternoon:

Saturday afternoon (June 2), from 4-5:30 pm, is an opportunity for networking.  This is an opportunity for you to intentionally connect with individuals or groups in whatever way you desire.  There will be a small number of meeting rooms available for groups who want to designate a specific place to meet for fellowship or discussion.  Email Michele Hilton ( if your group wants to reserve one of these rooms.  No refreshments or snacks will be provided, but we will print a sign and include your group meeting space in announcements.

Special feature at this year’s Assembly: Two fun events on Saturday evening

Manager’s Reception each evening

Each evening, enjoy a beverage and lite hors d’ouvres ‘on the house’ as a part of the Manager’s Reception.


Technology at the Assembly

Please bring your own laptop, iPad, tablet or other device to access Guidebook and relevant materials throughout the assembly.  We are continuing our commitment to a paperless assembly, and are working closely with the hotel to ensure adequate wireless bandwidth.  We will be attempting to use voting machines for elections, but everything else will be on Guidebook, which is available as an app or is available online.  Using Guidebook means we can make updated information available much easier.

Instructions on Accessing guidebook from an internet browser

We will be experimenting with a new electronic voting device (although using paper ballots for all official voting).  This will simply be an experiment.  Please note your experience of these devices in the post-assembly survey.  The decision on whether we use ‘new’ ARS (keypad voting) in the future will depend on your review of this system in the survey that will come to you immediately at the close of this Assembly.

If you prefer printed material, please print it before you come to assembly.  Please note that the worship material is also on Guidebook, and printed bulletins will not be provided for worship at assembly.