By Rev. Michele Fischer
Bishop Herman Yoos stood before the 2017 South Carolina Lutheran Synod Assembly on Sunday evening, May 21, to share his report for the past year.
Reflecting on the theme of “salt and light” he reminded those gathered that Jesus used three common images to talk about ministry: salt, light and leaven. Each of these images helps us to reflect on the partnership and work that we have been engaged with this past year.
The South Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church has been salt, seasoning our world with the love and grace of Jesus Christ in many ways.
Following our resolution at the 2015 Assembly, we see many congregations enhancing the lives of children through congregational partnerships with community schools. We see salt at work in the ongoing partnership with Lutheran Services Carolina, our SC Synod Disaster team and the ELCA Disaster Response to assist victims of the 2015 and 2016 floods. And we are bringing out God’s flavors in our world by helping to build our first ever Latino Lutheran Church for the people of Cristo Rey. Did you know that last year there were 42 baptisms celebrated in this mission congregation?
Bishop Yoos spoke about how Jesus frequently used the image of light. Author Richard Rohr writes that “light itself is seldom seen, but rather through light everything else becomes visible. Christ is the light through which we see the true reality of everything else around us.”
There are several places where the light of Christ has shown forth in new ways this past year. First, we can consider the many ways our synod and our congregation has celebrated 500th Observance of the Reformation. These events have been like a prism that shines the different colors of God’s grace into our lives. Another light shining moment came when five smaller congregations came together at the seminary with Dr. Mark Tidsworth to learn about the three big shifts that are happening in churches in this 21st century.
The third image Jesus used to talk about God’s mission was that of leaven or yeast. Here we understand that a little yeast produces a chemical reaction in dough that effects a whole loaf of delicious tasting bread. In a similar way God has been using the SC Synod like a leavening agent to create relationships of respect and understanding across racial barriers in our state.
Under Pastor Leroy Cannon’s leadership we have hosted 13 Selma movie events involving over 70 congregations with one of them including an interfaith event with Jews and Muslims. There have also been two Bible studies, and two youth oriented “Remember the Titans” movie events. Clearly, God is at work in these transformative conversations across our synod opening hearts and minds to the dignity and worth of all people and overcoming barriers of race and prejudice that have been so destructive in our state.
During his report, Bishop Yoos introduced new staff member, Pastor Rick Carter, who serves as the new Director of Evangelical Mission. Pastor Carter brings great energy, vision, and new insights into the work we as a synod do together. Finally, Bishop Yoos concluded his report by thanking the members of his staff who work so hard to help the South Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America be salt, light and leaven in the community around us and in the world. Thank you to Pastor Ginny Aebischer, Pastor Eric Wolf, Pastor Ozzie Herlong, Jenny Spearen, Julie Koon, Charlene Fink, and Neal Fischer.