Dear sisters and brothers in Christ
We greet you in the wonderful name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
The 1st Ordinary meeting of the 16th Synod of the Ev.-Luth Church in Southern Africa (Cape Church) was held from 12-14 October 2023 at St Crucis in East London. The pastors of the CCW and CCE gathered from 10-12 October 2023 at St Crucis, not only to discuss our different ministries, but specifically to pray together for our congregations, and the synodal meeting.
We were aware of the different spiritual ambiance in comparison to previous synods. We believe that the theme of this synod (and Watchword for 2023) – “GOD SEES” – influenced each representative. The Worship Services, and Holy Communion, as well as the daily worship sessions (Bible studies) assisted the character change of the meeting. In the same manner Hagar, the slave of Sarai and Abram,
could testify (in Gen 16:13), “‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me,” we also testify accordingly!
As we all are concerned about the (perception of an) ageing of the Church membership, and the lack of attendance/participation of our youth members and younger families, a survey was conducted earlier in 2023. This questionnaire was designed to collect the views and experiences of congregants regarding the intergenerational ministry in each congregation. We thank all congregants who participated by answering the questionnaire!
The outcome of this report (of 33 pages, summarized to 8) was the focus of discussion at the Synod. In order not to talk about the youth members but with them, for the first-time youth members from CCE, CCW and ELCSA COD were invited as guests to attend the Synod. This gave opportunities for lively discussion of what the needs and expectations are of all the generations in our congregations. We thank the 6 younger guests for their presence, acknowledging they are part of our current and our future leadership.
We also realise that we live in a digital age with many opportunities for growth for our faith tradition in the bigger societies we are part of, the Synod decided to focus on better communication possibilities not only inward amongst congregations, but also externally in the public domain.
As representatives of our congregations, we are all concerned about the brokenness of the South African society. We acknowledge that God sees – not only as a God who cares, but also as a God who calls the church as the vehicle to be the hands and feet to bring healing. A study will be undertaken to form a clearer picture of the diaconal ministries in each congregation. It is the hope of the synod that we will be a church known for our helping hand towards those who are in (spiritual, emotional, and physical) need.
In conclusion, we were encouraged by the theme – GOD SEES. God sees our pain, as well as the faithful work of a Servant(hood) Church. The God that sees is also God, the source of hope. Therefore, we pray that each member of the Ev.-Luth Church in Southern Africa (Cape Church) may be filled “with all joy and peace by means of faith in him, so that your hope will grow by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:13).
Warm greetings from all the Synod Delegates and Guests.