By Rev. Dr. Dean Nadasdy
The theme of the Minnesota South District Convention next month is “On Our Way Rejoicing.” We’ve drawn the theme from Acts 8:39. As an inspired Luke tells the story, Philip the evangelist is used by God to instruct an Ethiopian who has been reading Isaiah 53 while aboard his chariot. Evidently the Ethiopian had not heard that “texting” and driving at the same time can be dangerous. More likely the Ethiopian was wealthy enough to have a driver (and to own his own scroll of Isaiah!).
This is an ideal evangelism call in every way. Wouldn’t it be great to visit someone who is not a Christian and who just happens to be reading from Isaiah 53? He asks you, “About whom is the prophet writing here?” And you get to tell him about Jesus!
By the grace of God, the Ethiopian believes in Jesus Christ and is baptized. Philip moves on, and, as Luke puts it, “he (the Ethiopian) went on his way rejoicing.” There is our convention theme.
As we gather June 18-20 at the Gangelhoff Center on the campus of Concordia University, St. Paul, we want to focus on the sheer joy of following Jesus. We also want our churches and workers to cherish that image of a new believer coming out of the life-giving waters of baptism to go on his or her way rejoicing. Wouldn’t it be something if the same joy we know in the Word, in faith, in baptism, and in the mission of Jesus Christ could permeate even a church convention! Through worship, Bible studies, mission videos, and even debate over resolutions we’re praying for a joyous gathering of delegates rejoicing on their way!
On Saturday, May 2, four convention floor committees meet at Concordia University to consider over thirty overtures from congregations, circuits, and the district Board of Directors. These floor committees include Missions, Theology and Church Relations, Congregational Services, and Administration and Finance. At their meetings, floor committees will develop resolutions for the convention to consider based on the overtures and reports received. Then on Thursday, June 18, 9:00 am, at Concordia University, floor committees will conduct open hearings for any who may want to express their opinion on any proposed resolutions.
Overtures to the convention include such topics expanding campus ministry; adding a full-time Assistant to the President for Schools and Commissioned Workers; proposed changes to our constitution and bylaws; a possible special funding appeal to support Christian education in our district; encouraging new mission ventures; and urging church members and elected officials to value our religious freedom.
Among our joyous throng in the Minnesota South District are Ethiopian pastors, leaders, and lay people who trace their Christian heritage all the way back to that official, wet with baptismal water and rejoicing on his way to everlasting life. It will be a joy to have them with us at the convention.
Every congregation has been encouraged to gather a coin offering for our opening service, which is dedicated to River of Life Lutheran Church, in St. Peter, MN, a new church start. Please pray for the convention, especially on Sunday, June 14, the Sunday just before we convene. Pray that the Lord of the Church will accomplish something as wonderfully oxymoronic as “a joyous convention.”