Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why go to the Dells, when you can go to Synod School?

Last week I spent the week with my family at Synod School held at Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa. Synod School is an annual educational event sponsored by the Synod of the Lakes and Prairies. (The Synod is one of the four governing bodies in the Presbyterian Church. The Synod of Lakes and Prairies covers the Midwestern section of the United States.)

This was the fourth time I’ve attended Synod School—the first time I’ve attended at Buena Vista College. I attended three times at Grinnell College.

Synod School was a marvelous event which I completely enjoyed. Each morning we participated in worship. After worship children and youth were dismissed to their programming. When it was time to go to the kids’ program, my daughter, Hannah, leaped out of her chair. After worship Rodger Nishioka, professor of Christian Edcuation at Columbia Seminary, gave a morning lecture. This year he talked about what it means to be Presbyterian. We then had the opportunity to go to four classes. The classes ranged from academic—one class was on Greek tragedies—to the playful—another class was on Improvisation. During the evening we were able to worship again and then had many other possible classes in which we could go. In one evening class Rodger Nishioka did a question and answer session with whomever showed up.

My sister’s family and my parents made Synod School our family vacation. Instead of going to a resort or Wisconsin Dells we chose Synod School. Why go to the Dells when a person could go to Synod School?

On Sunday night we were greeted in Storm Lake by the first stage of R.A.G.B.R.A.I. This is the bike ride sponsored by the Des Moines Register across Iowa. Approximately 10,000 people were participating. My wife, Amy, and I were amazed at all we saw on Sunday night when we walked downtown Storm Lake. Bicyclists were camping all over town, a huge festival was being held on the main street, and the Johnny Holm band performed. Amy & I had a blast talking to some cyclists and absorbing many “interesting” sights.

The highlight for me at Synod School was listening to Rodger Nishioka speak. I’ve heard him speak twice before. He has gotten better. He has his pulse on the how young people view faith. He’s passionately interested in how we Presbyterians can share our message in a successful way with young folks. I know many people are worried about the future of the PC(USA). My suggestion for our doubters is to listen close to what Rodger Nishioka has to say.

Synod School is a wonderful family vacation. I can see why over 600 people participated. Why go the the Dells when a person can go to Synod School?

Congratulations to the Synod School Planning Team and Synod Staff for pulling off an outstanding event.

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