THE 14TH ANNUAL SYNOD & ACW CONFERENCE OF THE DIOCESE OF THE SOUTHWESTERN STATES

Article by St. George’s parishioner Kathleen G. Hoffman, St. Anne’s ACW Secretary

Day 1: The Hotel & Accommodations

The hotel is set in a business park, with a round courtyard and many facilities including hot tub, pool, sauna, and exercise room. It has a very large inside courtyard with multi-level open galleried interior decorated with artwork, greens and ivy and a running brook open to a glass ceiling.  Several restaurants and a wi-fi center are part of the facilities.

After settling into our hotel rooms, the host parish of the Synod, All Saints, invited us to a fabulous reception, which included cocktails and a buffet of roast beef, sauces and rolls, marinated and grilled vegetables and more. The relaxed and inviting ambiance made for an enjoyable time of becoming better acquainted with the other attendees at the Synod.

Transportation to and from the airport was provided by the hotel. We received from Synod Coordinator, Linda Unruh, our name badges and treat bags full of goodies, pens, paper, water, info on Tulsa, and several gifts, with a welcome note attached to the bag.

The Cheerleaders! The hotel was filled with hundreds of sweet and noisy young teens practicing their music and programs! They told us all about their programs and the competition. Many were from the Christian churches in the area. They were very proud of their multi-national strong friendships.

Everyone was very friendly and welcoming. Even our ministers, postulants, and Bishop’s staff members were interesting and from so many different backgrounds. Linda Unruh and Lynda Volpe, DSWS ACW President, introduced themselves right away! It was a very enjoyable and relaxing way to spend our first evening. So many new faces to meet and get to know!

The seminars/programs and schedules were very well defined in our booklets, plus many reports, budgets, and information.

DAY 2: The Synod Begins: An Excellent Series of Programs

The General Business Meeting

The Bishop was very prayerful, efficient, and succinct. The meeting included the introduction of the three postulants; the explanation of the office and election of Fr. Frank Brulc, Dean of All Saints Cathedral in Tulsa, as the Bishop Suffragan*, among other elections and nominations. It was a privilege to be called by name to vote as a lay delegate for St. George’s. The Bishop’s Address stressed the needs of our Diocese for priests and explained the importance of a proper calling. He counseled patience and prayer. He thanked and acknowledged the many planners and work done for the Synod. He noted that “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly,” quoted from a book he had read. He was a witty and impressive speaker. Some items mentioned were:

 

-Prayers for improved health for Fr. Miley

-Prayers and thanksgiving for the life and ministry of Fr. Greer

-Prayers for the repose of the soul of Fr. Les Macabee

-Introduced three postulants and their wives:  Mark Williams, John LesCallett (Diocesan Stewardship Advisor), and Dr. William Haerter

-The minutes of the previous Synod, held at St. George’s in Las Vegas in 2011, were reviewed and accepted, as well as the Diocesan treasurer’s report, ACW report, Sunday school, budget, and financial statements.

The General Business Meeting was followed by an hour set aside for meditationand a very lovely Mass.

The ACW Meeting

Diocesan Synod ACW President Lynda Volpe is a very positive and exciting speaker. We were all invited to comment on our individual chapters – lots of ideas, comments, and possibilities. We discussed needs and outreach.  Lenten Mite box donations brought in almost $1000. ACW annual dues were discussed.  It is possible they will be raised to $75 per year since they have not been raised in five years.  Mrs. Volpe asked that we do our annual officer elections in December prior to the Holidays, and report them as soon as possible so that the information may be used in our publications for next year.

We discussed The Diocesan Observer newsletter and everyone was invited to submit newsworthy articles to the Bishop’s secretary, Janis Griffin, at the Diocesan office email or to Lynda Volpe at LyndaGV@cox.net.  We also discussed Project Outreach goals and donations. Youth Services, a homeless teen outreach, was our 2012 recipient and was featured on the TV news the next morning! The printed booklet for ACW is excellent and has several very good prayers for our meetings, plus a closing poem by our very own Patty Earhart! Very impressive meeting! Very good fellowship! I felt lucky to be included, just as I feel in our St. George’s ACW fellowship.

There was a colorful table display of the Prayer Shawls and their purposes. These were introduced by Rene LesCallett last year, and All Saints ACW has created over five hundred of these shawls. They are knit or crocheted, and those who do not have these skills (several have learned) have donated funds and materials to assist ($400 to date). The shawls are a powerful sign of support for those in need, and tangible signs of our caring. I was very impressed and have already started a prayer shawl. I brought back instructions, and one of the shawls was given to us to present to a fellow parishioner, Rae Waite, who has had some poor health. St. George’s parishioner and lay delegate to the Synod, Vincent Mills, even picked one out later for his mother-in-law Mary.  (Extra booklets are available for those interested.)

The ACW Luncheon was held at The Cypress Grille in our hotel. We had lots of fun, and introductions were made in a pretty private room with absolutely scrumptious and beautifully presented food! The chef and staff even gifted us with a desert of luscious fruit sorbets. It was great to get to know each other in a little more depth.

The Sunday School Seminar by Diocesan Sunday School Director Kathleen Brulc was next, and we discussed the importance of Christian education, the problems of our children today and the building of lifelong friendships among our children.  St. George’s was highly complimented for our Sunday school programs, and gifts for Kim Jones and Julie Viacava were presented to me to bring to them.  Some of the other churches have few or no children of Sunday school age, and it is difficult for them to have consistent programs. Kathleen and Fr. Robling strongly recommended teen groups in our churches. We played a game which Kathleen had learned, and I brought the cards and instructions home with me. It was a great opportunity to share each others’ thoughts, concerns, and prayers.

Fundraising & Stewardship was led by John LesCallett, our Diocesan Stewardship Advisor. He had presented a very thorough booklet last Synod, and I have brought home several copies for our use at St. George’s. In addition, he brought a new publication which assists in identifying (but not typecasting) stewardship and givers in our parishes. Both Vincent Mills and I had an opportunity to brainstorm with John for ideas and planning. John has a great sense of humor and is very knowledgeable. He has offered to visit and work with us at St. George’s upon request. I brought extra booklets for those interested.

Gala banquet This was held in one of the grand meeting rooms of the hotel and was very elegant. Fr. Hines and I sat at a large table with very stimulating conversation. Father Hines, Vincent Mills and I enjoyed the day and evening.

Day 3: The Cathedral and Mass

We requested pictures from the formal photographer but nothing can do justice to the jewel-like setting of All Saints Cathedral, which is a lovely stone cathedral with surrounding grounds. The interior of the cathedral is elegant and very English. The walls around the altar are painted a dove grey and hung with a gorgeous sculptured image of Christ on the Cross. There were brass chandeliers, incense, and a beautifully orchestrated Mass with all of the rich tapestry of a high Mass, a lovely choir (from the choir loft) and music… a very powerful Holy Eucharist. The organist finished with Aaron Copeland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.”

The ACW Brunch The Cathedral Hall was beautifully decorated like an English garden with containers of flowers, ivy and plants in small and large arrangements. The tables were covered with matching tablecloths and cloth napkins and loaded with large chafing dishes and pitchers and cruets for juices. Jennifer, the Bishop’s wife, made a variety of scones. The room held a buffet table in the center, with four large round tables on each side.  Framed menus on the tables were a nice touch. It was obvious that the ACW and worked very hard to make such a beautiful and gracious brunch. The buffet included fresh fruits and yogurt, herb and vegetable frittatas, breads, ham, deviled eggs, croissants and so much more all beautifully presented and delicious!

The ACW ladies mentioned several times the wonderful brunch we put on at St. George’s last year also.

Special remembrances were sent to Jayme Rogers, Patty Earhart, Kim Jones, and Greetings to John Pelham, Jr. from Kathleen Brulc.

Thank you all for sending us to this outstanding event. May God Bless you!

 

*The Bishop described the office of Bishop Suffragan, the history, and that this office has existed since 1535.

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