Letter from the VP
Dear friends in the Regional Synod of Albany,
My name is Matthew van Maastricht. I am the pastor at the Altamont Reformed Church and I am honored to serve as the vice-president of the Regional Synod of Albany. Today I’m writing to ask for your financial support of the Synod Ministries Board (SMB), a part of our shared ministry that helps to resource classes and churches in our synod.
I recently read an article in the Atlantic entitled, “My Church Doesn’t Know What to Do Anymore.”
Perhaps you resonate already with the title. The article discussed how in 2020, there was more clear guidance on what to do with the pandemic and how to navigate the waters. However, this year, we are off the map, so to speak. There’s no clear guidance and everyone has to figure it out for themselves. The author expressed exasperation that she spent a year trying to convince people that the church wasn’t closed--the church was still the church, even in the diaspora--but now she has to convince people that it is important to come back and re-gather. The pandemic sped up a trend already in existence for many years: a widespread decline in church participation. Perhaps you feel this reality in your bones, as I do.
At the same time, the calling of the church has never been more important, for we bear witness to the True Light of the world. And we do so, not alone, but together—for together we are far stronger than any of us are alone. It is to that end that the Synod Ministries Board has been working to resource the classes to help the churches as we share ministry together. We are in this together...for good.
Here are just a few highlights of our recent work:
Two grants: one to the Classis of Schenectady to help fund training for preaching elders, and one to Camp Fowler to help cover the cost of Covid-related PPE.
The SMB funds the Albany Synod School of Ministry, which in 2021 finished a round of courses that trained over a dozen prospective preaching elders, and began a next round with a new group of students. It also proposed the establishment of a new preaching elder circle, facilitated by the Rev. Steven Rodriguez, to help provide ongoing support, care, and mutual accountability for commissioned preaching elders currently serving throughout the Synod. This circle will begin meeting in January 2022.
Additional funding was added to the fund to provide counseling and support to ministers facing burnout, especially during this season.
The SMB sponsors a variety of retreats, support groups, trainings, courses and continuing education events for clergy, christian educators, church leaders, preaching elders, and church members throughout the year. It maintains the Albany Synod Mediation Team, which provides healthy communications training, conflict mediation and facilitated conversations. It works hard to get the word out about other synod resources, like the Churches Learning Change process, Faithwalking (a personal transformation process that is open to everyone) and the Albany Synod Fellowship Program and the First Call Project.
The Synod Ministries Board is only able to do any of this because of the support of the churches. We know that budgets are often tight. We are grateful for your support, and ask for it again as we near the end of the year. With your partnership, the Albany Synod Ministries Board can continue to walk with the Synod’s people, churches and classes, in order that we don’t feel so alone.
We don’t want anyone left with the feeling of not knowing what to do. We are stronger together, and together we can brighten the path forward.
Matthew van Maastricht
So what’s next?
Do you want to make a donation to the Synod Ministries Board?
Checks should be made out to “The Regional Synod of Albany”
Memo: Synod Ministries Board
Sent to: Regional Synod of Albany, 1790 Grand Blvd, Schenectady NY 12309
(Checks received prior to January 15, 2022 will be credited as a 2021 donation)
Do you want to talk with a representative of the Synod Ministries Board?
Contact Abby Norton-Levering, Synod Ministries Coordinator, and she will connect you to your regional representative.
Maybe you’d like to apply for a grant from the SMB?
Go to https://www.albanysynod.org/synod-ministries-board-smb to complete a grant request online or to download the form.
Looking for contact information for any of our synod staff?
Find it at https://www.albanysynod.org/meet-the-team
Perhaps you want to be more connected to Albany Synod and know what’s happening?
Sign up for our newsletter on www.albanysynod.org and like Regional Synod of Albany on Facebook to get regular updates!