Academic journal article Currents in Theology and Mission

From Resolution to Reality: A Synod's Engagement with the Book of Faith Initiative

Academic journal article Currents in Theology and Mission

From Resolution to Reality: A Synod's Engagement with the Book of Faith Initiative

Article excerpt

It was early morning, May 30, 2008. People were streaming into the auditorium where the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin was holding its annual Synod Assembly. The excitement was palpable. Dr. Diane Jacobson was with us, and we knew we were going to vote on becoming a Book of Faith Synod. Throughout the two days of that assembly, we attended to the normal business of such assemblies: electing leaders, passing resolutions, and attending workshops. However, it was Dr. Jacobson's keynotes and Bible study that pulled people away from the coffee dispensers in the hallways and into the auditorium. For the record, here is a summary of Dr. Jacobson's presentations, Bible study and workshop:

Welcome to the Book of Faith Initiative: Challenges and Opportunities

An exploration of why the ELCA is embarking on this initiative and how individuals, congregations, and other institutions can join and build the initiative together.

How Lutherans Read the Bible

A glimpse into some of the central insights and convictions that Lutherans bring to our engagement with the Bible.

Reading Together: An Interactive Study of Acts 16:11-15

Workshop: Opening and Studying the Bible Together: Four Helpful Methods

This workshop will be a hands-on Bible study of Exodus 3:1-15. We will explore the four methods commended in Opening the Book of Faith (available to assembly participants for free at Augsburg Fortress) with special emphasis on the particular questions that Lutherans ask as we read the Bible together.

The remainder of this article documents the varied ways the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin has lived out the ideas and challenges Dr. Jacobson and then Bishop Pederson gave us. As is no doubt the case in other synods, implementing the Book of Faith Initiative remains a work in progress, and the renewal of the Book of Faith Initiative at our 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly reminds us that we are not alone. Together, the ELCA is finding intersections between the biblical story and our own stories in order to make a difference in the world.

At that 2008 Synod Assembly, Bishop Duane Pederson and Dr. Diane Jacobson signed a document proclaiming our synod to be a Book of Faith Synod. Later that summer, Bishop Pederson pulled his staff together and challenged us to use our annual gatherings of rostered leaders and future synod assemblies to live into our commitment to be a Book of Faith Synod. He asked me tobeourBook of Faith Synod Advocate, and to use the resources of our synod to help make our status as a Book of Faith Synod more than just a signed document on a synod office wall.

So, that is exactly what we did.

Synod-wide strategies for engaging the Book of Faith Initiative

As we planned our annual Winter Theological Event for rostered leaders, we were intentional about inviting learned presenters who could connect the rich biblical story with our faith and lives of service in God's world. The following list demonstrates the results of those efforts to model for our rostered leaders and congregations what a Book of Faith Synod looks like. From 2008 to 2013, the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin welcomed the following teachers of the church to our winter theological conference: David Balch, Barbara Rossing, Mark Allan Powell, David Lose, Ralph Klein, and Craig Nessan.

Video is also a powerful tool to draw people into a conversation about any topic. The explosion of the popularity of YouTube and other video hosting websites certainly demonstrates this. We chose to create a series of videos to help our synod's congregations share how they were living into the Book of Faith Initiative. We invited videographer Tim Frakes from the ELCA Mosaic Project to spend a week in our synod, traveling from congregation to congregation with his camera and gear, filming what he thought were interesting examples of how the Book of Faith Initiative was taking root in our synod. …

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