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Synod Assembly 2018

Synod Assembly 2018

June 1-3

at Embassy Suites, Kissimmee

Registration opens March 15, 2018

Click HERE to Register for Assembly

2018 Secretary’s Letter

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

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.

Keynote Speaker--Dr. David Lose; Churchwide Representative--Rev. Stephen Bouman

David J. Lose serves as the senior pastor at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN.  Dr. Lose previously served as president of Lutheran Theological Seminary. Before that, he held the Marbury E. Anderson Chair in Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary, where he also served as the Director of the Center for Biblical Preaching. He is the author of Preaching at the Crossroads: How the World — and Our Preaching — Is Changing (2013), Making Sense of the Cross (2011), Making Sense of the Christian Faith (2010), Making Sense of Scripture (2009), and Confessing Jesus Christ: Preaching in a Postmodern World (2003). He speaks widely in the United States and abroad on preaching, Christian faith in a postmodern world, and biblical interpretation.




The ELCA Churchwide Representative will be Rev. Stephen Bouman, Director of the Domestic Mission Unit of the ELCA.

Bio and more information coming soon.


Hotel: Embassy Suites, Kissimmee

Registration for Synod Assembly will open on March 15, 2018.  At the end of the registration form, you will be given a link to register for a hotel room.  Please reserve your room(s) early.

Please note that the link to reserve a hotel room will only work  for ONE ROOM.  If you need to reserve more than one room, please call the hotel directly.


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 here.

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

Room reservations need to be made in addition to assembly registration.  Reservations can be made through a link available at the end of the registration process, or by contacting the hotel directly.  For reserving more than one room for your group, please call the hotel directly.

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.

Assembly Chaplain

There will be a chaplain 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:

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: William Rodriguez
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, William Rodriguez 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 Can’t Buy Me Love
Presenter: Rev. David Lose
Description:  David Lose will engage in discussion about the connection between faith and stewardship, and explore a Lutheran lens on stewardship and giving.
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 Barringer
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
Presenter: ReconcilingWorks
Description: As more and more youth come out as part of the LGBTQIA+ community it is important ministry leaders do all they can to create a welcoming and safe environment. This workshop will offer ideas on how to be inclusive and celebrate all students.


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. Contacted for more information


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. Contacted for clarity and approval
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 ELCA World Hunger
Presenter: Jessie Fairfax, Florida-Bahamas Synod World Hunger Advocate
Description: ELCA World Hunger has a deep commitment to meeting the physical and spiritual needs of the world through hunger relief, education, advocacy and awareness.  Come learn more about how you and your congregation can be part of what ELCA World Hunger is doing in the U.S. and around the world.


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.

Standing Rules–All Assemblies

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.

The Assembly will not be considering resolutions and memorials this year.  Resolutions and memorials will be directed to the Synod Council.


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

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.

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.

Networking Opportunity:

On Saturday afternoon (June 2), there will be time on the agenda 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 Assembly: coming soon


Manager’s Reception each evening

Each evening, enjoy a beverage ‘on the house’ as a part of the Manager’s Reception.