Lutherans plan convention here

April 23, 2004

For the first time since its founding, a group of 187 Lutheran churches will hold its annual convention in Western Maryland.

The Delaware-Maryland Synod, among the 65 geographic groupings in the 5 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has selected the Clarion Conference Center Antietam Creek, Hagers-town, to host its 2005 and 2006 synod assemblies, or conventions.

The three-day events will bring about 500 people from as far as Wilmington, Del., and Ocean City, Md., to Hagers-town. In 2005, the convention is set for June 9-11. Specific dates are still to be determined for June 2006.

The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau said in a press release it has been working closely with the conventions' organizers.


"This is a wonderful event for Hagerstown and Washington County," said CVB's director of convention sales, Betsy de Vore. "The Lutheran Synod convention committee has been great to work with, and we're looking forward to welcoming this group to our community."

Themes for the 2005 and 2006 assemblies will be continuations of the 2004 theme, which is "Marked with the cross of Christ forever, we are claimed." In 2005, the new theme will be: "Marked with the cross of Christ forever, we are gathered." In 2006, the theme will be "Marked with the cross of Christ forever, we are sent."

Keynote speakers, Bible study leaders and guest preachers will focus their presentations on each year's theme.

Because the assembly is the highest legislative authority in the synod, voting members representing each congregation will meet several times a day to act on such items as proposed budgets, elections to leadership positions, and resolutions calling for action at the synod level.

In 2006, the main item on the business agenda will be electing a synod bishop to a six-year term.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the synod's parent body, is among the largest mainline Protestant denominations in the nation, the press release said.

The synod serves all ELCA congregations in Delaware. In Maryland, it stretches from Ocean City west to LaVale, and from the Maryland line to the Montgomery and Prince George's County lines.

The synod's ministry is increasingly diverse. Its congregations include one of the few in the country entirely behind prison bars, the Community of St. Dysmas, Jessup, Md. Another congregation, People's Community Lutheran Church, serves a large population of Liberian immigrants now in the Baltimore area.

One of the synod's newest and fastest-growing ministries is a congregation being developed in Urbana, Md., by one of its oldest and largest congregations, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Frederick, Md.

In the greater Hagerstown area, the 21 congregations of what the synod referrs to as the Washington County Conference are making plans to act as local hosts to assembly-goers.

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