This pas weekend, Holy Shepherd hosted the ELCA National Synod Hunger Leaders Gathering. This event brought people from every synod in the entire ELCA to our church in Lakewood to discuss hunger issues. Andrea, as the Holy Shepherd Hunger Contact, organized the local volunteers for the entire weekend, and we spent most of the weekend at church making sure everything ran smoothly.
On Friday, I went over at lunch to help with dishes because it was the one meal that we didn't have enough people to help with. It turned out that they had it well under control, so I went and caught up on Planning & Staffing issues with Barb in the office. When I tried to return to work, the Fed Center had been shut down due to a water main break, so I went back to church. I spent some time with Pastor Michael discussing some of the Planning and Staffing issues before I went to see what I could sit in on in the conference.
The first session I joined was on Taking Root. It is a new education curriculum to bring hunger issues into Sunday School. I then went to the session on HIV/AIDS. This was a particularly fascinating session dealing with the links between HIV/AIDS and poverty and hunger issues. We spent quite a bit of time going over ways to introduce the discussion of HIV/AIDS into church and ways to minister and be hospitable to those with the disease.
Andrea and I then helped with dinner, spending most of the time helping with dishes before heading home for the night.
Saturday morning, we got up early to go take Andrea's car to get new tires before heading over to the Gathering. We sat in on the first plenary session before setting up for the snacks at the first break. After the dishes were done, we headed off to some of the other sessions.
I went to a session on Hunger Ministry in the 21st Century. The session wasn't really what I pictured based on the description, but it did have some interesting moments. The session was largely on how to engage politically for hunger action without being partisan. It also talked a lot about goals for per member giving to hunger issues.
I then went and helped with lunch, again spending a lot of time doing dishes. Everything went smoothly once again, and I took off in the afternoon to go to a BBQ at one of our friends' house.
I got back in time for the 5:30 service in the evening. I'm sure the normal crowd of about 35-40 people was stunned at the size of the turnout with all 150 or so of the Gathering participants joining us. The Gathering participants were woven into the service, including a guest preacher from West Virginia. The sound of the singing was really only rivaled by Easter from what I could tell.
After service, we ran a couple errands and then met a number of people from the Gathering for dinner at El Jimador on Union. It was a very good dinner with a wonderful group of people.
We had a great time over the weekend, and everyone from the Gathering couldn't have been more appreciative of the efforts of Holy Shepherd and how smoothly things went.