Reflections on hosting LCA General Convention of Synod
In September, Redeemer Lutheran College and Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Rochedale worked together to host the 18th General Convention of Synod. More than 400 registered delegates and 300 visitors attended, as well as a large group of local volunteers. Director of Community Relations at Redeemer Lutheran College (Julian Schubert) and Our Saviour Congregational Chair (Judy Powell) reflect on the experience of transforming a church and school into a thriving convention centre for hundreds of guests.
Julian says that the journey as Synod hosts for the Redeemer Lutheran College and Our Saviour Lutheran Church communities commenced some 18 months ago with the news that Synod was coming to Rochedale.
‘The news at first was quite daunting – for all of us!’ he says. ‘How would we pull this off? Could we find enough volunteers to make this work? And, how would we turn a school into a convention venue to host up to an expected 800 delegates and visitors? The list kept growing. We had to find enough beds and accommodation options for all of these visitors, shuttle buses, music teams, transforming the college campus and logistical things to organise.’
Judy agrees: ‘Our Saviour was initially somewhat nervous about being the hosting congregation for the 2015 Synod. It is such a huge and important event that we felt a little unsure of whether we could manage it, and we were more than a little concerned about how the demands of Synod might impact on our regular ministries. However, despite these initial hesitations, Synod proved to be a great blessing for our congregation, and our ministries did not suffer.’
The music was a very important aspect of the planning for the congregation. Very early in the planning stages, a small group of talented people from Our Saviour began working on the Synod music, and they were rewarded with observing how their music glorified God and enriched every Synod worship service. ‘The positive and grateful feedback that they received from delegates and visitors buoyed their spirits on a daily basis’, Judy says.
‘Month by month, and bit by bit, things gradually came together’, Julian adds. ‘Music teams rehearsed week after week, maintenance and grounds teams prepared the college and beautified the grounds, teams came together to organise the Synod Dinner, prayer teams came together, and volunteers from around Rochedale, Brisbane and Australia put up their hands to help out.’
The volunteers were one of the most significant aspects of Synod for both the congregation and the school. Judy says that Our Saviour congregation was asked to provide volunteers in specific areas including prayer team, communion team, AV team, greeters, stewards and delegate bag-stuffers. ‘I received an overwhelming response when I asked our congregation to volunteer’, she says. Over 150 of Our Saviour members helped at some stage during the Synod.
‘On a daily basis I had members offer to stay beyond their shift, or to come again the next day, or to fill gaps in other volunteer areas, such as catering, car parking and vote counting. Whenever a need arose, someone was there as a willing volunteer offering to be the hands and feet of Jesus.’
Judy and Julian agree that the event cemented the strong ties between the school and the church.
‘The LCA Synod was the largest ever logistical event ever hosted at Redeemer Lutheran College in its 35 year history’, Julian says. ‘It brought together the largest ever group of Our Saviour volunteers to work alongside each other. It stretched us, but it also grew us vnxww6f. Who would have thought that we could have pulled this off, yet I think we did. Who would have thought that I would say “it was fun”?’
‘Redeemer Lutheran College and Our Saviour congregation have a close and much-valued relationship, which has been strengthened by working together at Synod’, Judy adds. ‘The congregational volunteers are still buzzing, talking about their shared Synod experiences, telling people who weren’t there about the worship services, and trying to capture some of the Synod worship experience in our own Sunday services.
‘The sense of working together to achieve something special was exciting: a “body-of-Christ experience” that we pray will motivate our members to bring to reality our congregational vision, Inspired by the love of Jesus to grow as disciples and disciple makers.
‘Synod 2015 is over, but we intend that Our Saviour will be a place where love comes to life for years to come.’
This story, by Rebecca Eastgate, was written for Queensland Lutheran eNews, published November 2015.