One of the things which President Harrison promised, before he was elected president of the synod, was that he would begin a process wherein the synod would have a theological dialogue on every level. It is called the Koinonia Project. (Koinonia=fellowship/life together, etc.)
There is a concept paper with many thoughts, ideas, suggestions, ideal outcomes etc. But if you boiled it all down to its essence, the Koinonia Project is the “Let’s Talk about God” project. Theological dialogue, for the express purpose of identifying points of agreement and conflict, has never been attempted in our synod on this scale. Because it has never really been attempted. The statement of the 44 in ’45 was withdrawn “for the sake of peace and unity”. Of course, it was still out there, working it’s harmful way through the synod. But officially it was no longer a problem. Seminex ended without ever actually addressing issues theologically in the hopes of coming to agreement. The faculty that was teaching the “new hermeneutic” simply walked away from the synod for the greener pastures of their own utopia. They abandoned their disciples (pastors and congregations) who remained behind. Those sympathetic to Seminex who remained in the synod were consigned to watch their theological legacy grow increasingly irrelevant over the decades, as they looked with longing toward the newly formed ELCA.
Now, we have a chance to actually sit and talk theology in our synod. The most ambitious part of this project (and likely the single largest expense) is the Wyoming-Atlantic District joint conferences, to be held this spring and in the fall of 2015. The goal is to sit down, and discuss theology. What topics are we assigned to discuss? None. We are free to discuss whatever topics we feel to be important. That’s good news, because I would much rather sit down with someone and hash out our similarities and differences on our own terms, instead of on terms dictated by someone else.
However, unlike other groups that can meet once a week or once a month for a few years, we have only two chances: this spring, and then fall 2015. This means that we need to get down to business very quickly. We can’t spend days exchanging our “famous theologian” trading cards. We don’t have time to do in depth surveys and demographic studies of ministry in differing contexts and cultures. We have about twenty minutes to say “Hello”, and then we’re going to have to start looking at theology, if we want to get anything accomplished.
However, just because we aren’t being assigned topics doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t share information before we arrive. For example, the Wyoming District has spoken, as a district, to some very important matters in our synod. (At least, they are matters that the Wyoming District, as a District considers important). I’m certain that our Atlantic District brethren have done so as well. We have District conventions, we have pastoral conferences, we have occasions to get together and look at what we believe teach and confess as “synod in this place.”
The Wyoming District has adopted numerous resolutions in the past decade which address theological issues that have arisen in our synod. Any one of them would make a good starting point. No one has to discuss these issues, but they certainly give a good background of the discussions that have been held in our own little corner of the synod.
The 2009 convention adopted a number of resolutions. So did the 2012 convention. They are, to my knowledge public documents, adopted publicly. You can download and read them if you like. They may take a minute, because of the size (4.7 MB & 2.3 MB). They don’t reflect every theological issue that has been discussed in our district, or at the district level. But these are a few areas where we have, as a District, agreed to speak to an issue. And so, it may give a little insight into where we are coming from, and how we see things. And it may give some ideas for topics of discussion.
That’s all to the good. As I said, this is a worthy endeavor. But the most valuable asset in this will be time. And any time we spend learning before we arrive is time we have “put in the bank” once we arrive.