|Companion Synods 101|
by the Rev. Johanna Johnson
This year’s Synod Assembly features the chance to hear from Bishop Stephen Dube and others from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Zimbabwe (ELCZ), one of our companion synods. Our guests have been touring the synod since arriving on May 30.
But wait, you may ask: What in the world is a companion synod? The companion synod program is a concrete way to engage in global mission. Each of the 65 synods of the ELCA are paired up with one or more synods elsewhere in the world. We are paired with the ELCZ and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia.
Then through various means, including prayer, visitation, and sharing, these companion synods build a relationship together based on a model of accompaniment. Rather than one partner assuming it has something that the other partner needs (thus putting the first in a position of power), both partners walk together, mutually serving each other.
Another way to think about accompaniment is as a collection of stories: my story, your story, and God’s story. Each of us, regardless of who we are or where we’re from, has a unique and valuable story to tell, and all of these stories are an essential part in God’s story. Because of this, as we come to know each other better, we also come into closer relationship with the God who made all of us in God’s image.
To this end, the purpose of companion synods is to give us all an opportunity to build relationships and recognize the gifts that both parties can bring, as we pray for, visit, learn about, share stories with, offer aid to, and regularly remember one another. We look forward to hearing from Bishop Dube this morning, and hearing the unique story that he and the ELCZ bring to God’s story of mission in the world.