We Are One- 2021 Nebraska Synod Assembly

The Nebraska Synod gathered digitally for its first-ever online assembly on Saturday, June 5. Live-streamed from the television studios of the University of Nebraska Omaha, the assembly managed to share online worship, hear from presenters, conduct elections, transact business, and engage in dialog, all in a matter of six hours. The opening worship was adapted from the ELCA’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of ordination of Lutheran women in the U.S., the 40th anniversary of the first ordination of a woman of color, and the 10th anniversary of the ordination of persons in same-sex marriages. Former Bishop Jessica Crist of the Montana Synod was the guest preacher, and served as a keynote speaker as well, reflecting on the critical importance of lifelong learning for all disciples.

Rev. Dr. Rafael Malpica-Padilla was the ELCA Churchwide Representative and reported on all that the Nebraska Synod does nationally and globally through the many varied expressions of the ELCA’s ministries. Picking up on a phrase from Bishop Maas’ report in the Bulletin of Reports, he repeatedly asked whether “we will lean backward and tip over into history, or lean forward and tip over into a new future.” He spoke with passion of the ways the ELCA is leaning into God’s future and expressed gratitude to the Nebraska Synod for its support and leadership within the ELCA.

The Bishop’s Report

Bishop Maas started out his annual report with a recap of 2020 and how the pandemic led to change. As part of this recap, he discussed Walter Brueggemann’s work with the three urgent prophetic tasks- Reality, Grief, and Hope. It was inspiring to see all the hopeful ways congregations were able to adapt to the reality of the pandemic and recover from grief to continue to be the church together. Bishop Maas also discussed some key topics, such as leadership in the church and the work we do with our Serving Arm partners. He ended his time by highlighting synod programs and new ministries, such as Seeking the Spirit Within, the Church of the Way, and the Vitality Initiative for Congregations. To find out more about synod ministries and programs, visit

Other Highlights

Opening worship featured many of our female leaders from across the synod. Pastors, deacons, and lay leaders from Nebraska congregations took part in leading this celebration of women in the church. Rev. Jessica Crist from the Montana Synod gave a sermon about women being called to preach.

Several of the synod’s partners shared their stories and messages in short videos. These videos were featured as part of our time together. To learn more about what our partner organizations do, you can find their videos at this link.

We successfully gathered to do the business of the church. Though voting was not in person, elections and approvals happened online via Zoom polling. Several individuals were elected for Synod Committees, Synod Council, and Churchwide Assembly. This year’s assembly marked the election of a new Synod Council secretary- Gwen Edwards will be joining the Synod Council officers. Attendees also approved the agenda and the 2022 proposed budget.

To view the 2021 Nebraska Synod Assembly, click here.