Dear South Carolina Synod Friends,
I would like to share an update with you about the 2020 South Carolina Synod Assembly.
Little did we know when we chose the theme for this year’s Assembly, “Listen, God is Calling!” how profound a statement and guide that would be for our life in this season.
Plans for the 2020 Synod Assembly have required deep listening to God and to one another, as well as a willingness to adapt and make changes to every way that we have ever done assembly before.
2020 has been a year like no other in our lifetime! This is a year when each new day engages us in learning
In the midst of the incredible changes to our routines and lives which the Covid-19 pandemic has brought, we have the amazing opportunity to listen even more closely for God’s voice and direction in the way we do ministry together.
Yesterday, the Synod Council voted to approve and bless a VIRTUAL/ONLINE Assembly for the South Carolina Synod.
The Assembly will be held on Saturday, July 25th from 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
There is no cost to participate as a voting member in this assembly.
All previously paid registration fees are in the process of being refunded.
Beginning on Monday, our staff will be in contact with each congregation and rostered leader to assist in getting Voting members registered correctly for this Online Assembly.
I would encourage Church leaders to look for and respond as soon as possible to emails from our office about registration so that we can all work together to complete this important step in the process in a timely manner.
Over the next two weeks we will then need to communicate by email with each voting member, and we request that everyone respond in a timely manner.
Our staff will begin by working to confirm all voting members who previously registered, and then stand ready to process registrations for those who have not yet signed up to participate.
All Voting Members will need to be registered no later than July 13 at 5:00 p.m. to receive your credentials to attend this Assembly and to Vote.
In advance of the assembly a detailed email will be sent to each individually registered voting member to share the secure links and information they will need to participate.
We will also host an Orientation session for Voting Members to assist everyone in getting comfortable with this platform. Information about that Orientation date and time will be included in the email.
The South Carolina Synod will be working with the tech company called Lumi Global to conduct this Virtual Assembly.
Lumi has provided voting technology at several ELCA churchwide assemblies throughout the years.
In addition, Lumi has been used on over 800 virtual meetings including IBM, Coca-Cola and the American Medical Association over the past three months.
This technology will be used to manage the voting which allows us to follow the Ecclesiastical Balloting process as well as all our voting needs.
This Assembly plan will follow the same protocols using the Conduct of Elections Committee to verify ballots and complete the details of the election process for each ballot as we have in the past for the election of our Bishop as well as all other elections.
The ELCA has been working with the 15 Synods who have the election of a bishop on their agenda for this year. They recommended Lumi as a possible and excellent way to manage assemblies during these unusual times, and they have worked with the ELCA Council to offer support with constitutional matters related to 2020 assembly which makes a Virtual Assembly more possible.
We have researched all our options. Lumi has proven to be effective in other Association meetings where important elections and business has successfully taken place.
We realize that this virtual Assembly will be very different than what we are accustomed to, but we are confident that we can get the business of the Assembly accomplished in accordance to our bylaws and procedures.
Voting members will be using Zoom in conjunction with the Lumi online voting platform. Lumi will be providing and managing the zoom session which has capacity for a large number of participants, and will be providing a tech support person for those with challenges.
Voting Members will have the option to participate from the comfort of their own homes, or if they wish, and feel that safety protocols can be used, they are welcome to arrange with their congregation or a local business to gather in small Congregational Groups to participate in this assembly.
I want to emphasize that we are not encouraging groups to meet together, however, some may find it helpful in accessing better internet. If it is helpful, safe, and everyone in the group is comfortable, it is certainly a possibility.
The zoom part of this can be watched together in groups, however, each person will need to have their own computer, or handheld device such as an iPhone to be able to vote and participate fully.
No visitors will be able to register for this Assembly, but
Guests may watch the Assembly proceedings through a livestream webcast found on our South Carolina Synod Website and YouTube.
The Proposed Agenda and Program is available on our website along with this statement. I encourage you to make yourself familiar with the Agenda notes and the flow of each session.
All documents that will be needed to participate in assembly are being prepared in user friendly formats and will be available on our website as soon as possible. I encourage you to read the documents and prepare any forms that you anticipate you will need to submit. All forms will be submitted online.
We look forward to this new and unique way of gathering to listen for the Spirit of God and to do the work of ministry together as the South Carolina Synod. Our prayers ascend for everyone’s health, safety and for those glimpses of the Holy that remind us that God is always with us.
Be on the lookout for our emails, and please respond as quickly as you are able.
We look forward to seeing you on Saturday, July 25th at the 2020 South Carolina Synod Assembly.
Pastor Ginny Aebischer
The Rev. Virginia S. Aebischer, Assistant to the Bishop