2023 Synod Assembly

We are trying something new and will split the 2023 Synod Assembly into two parts!
Voting members are encouraged to attend both the in Person Learning & Fellowship Event and the Digital Business.

April 22, 2023

One Day In Person/Zoom Assembly Learning & Fellowship Event  9am-4pm

This day will encompass much of what you'd find outside of the assembly business including our speaker(s), workshops, etc. All members of our synod are welcome to attend in Corpus Christi, Seguin or Zoom; voting AND non-voting members MUST register so we can coordinate meals and materials.
Scroll down to read more about the topic of the day and read about Dr. Torres-Hostos.

May 6, 2023

One Day Digital Business Assembly on Zoom  9am-4pm

This gathering will be entirely online, will consist of the business portion of the assembly. Voting Members will attend online. Non Voting Members may watch via Facebook Live.

Click to Register Now

Registration price will increase April 1st. Refunds (minus fee) before April 9th.
Email voting member changes to info@swtsynod.org.
Synod Learning Day

 “Mientras Tanto” - meaning “Meanwhile” - is the theme of our Synod Assembly Learning Day this year, from The Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 9, “Meanwhile, Saul…” It is the story of Saul’s encounter with God on the road to Damascus and his encounter with Ananias who heals him. It is the story of Saul’s transformation from the tormentor of Christians to the world’s evangelizer. Meanwhile, it is also the story of Ananias’ transformation as he heals the person he once feared. During our Synod Assembly Learning Day, we will dwell in the reality that many stories are occurring at the same time, that God’s presence is in many places and the Spirit is working within many people and communities. 

Dr. Luis Torres-Hostos, Founding Dean of the School of Social Work at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, will facilitate three participatory conversations to explore what we are doing, and what we can do, “meanwhile.” We will start by agreeing on some group norms to ensure that the conversations proceed without judgment and in a spirit of reflection. Some of the questions we will address are: Who are the “Paul’s” and the “Ananias’” in our lives, who are our tormentors and our healers (or who is causing harm and who is bringing healing)? How can we remain focused solely on our promised future when “meanwhile” God’s children are suffering? How do we make life better for all of God’s children? How do we say “Yes, Lord!” like Ananias did, rather than becoming paralyzed by inaction or by fear that the “Saul” in our life will strike us down?  

Meanwhile, worship will go on throughout the entire day. We’ll begin with a gathering hymn in the morning, trusting that our dwelling in Scripture and our conversations will serve as witnesses to God's work in our world in many peoples and places all at the same time. We’ll close our day with a brief sermon and communion, acknowledging our unity as the body of Christ across time and space, and even between the two geographic and one online location of our learning day. If you’re joining us by Zoom, we recommend having some communion elements available! We’ll worship in both English and Spanish and will have materials available in full in both languages.

These are profound questions that all of us struggle with, often on a daily basis. Engaging in honest, genuine, non-threatening, and non-judgmental conversations together and in the context of worship will help us all to live our Christian lives more fully, meanwhile… Join us!   

Mientras Tanto

The theme for the 2023 Southwestern Texas Synod Assembly is “Mientras Tanto,” a Spanish phrase meaning “Meanwhile” or “In the Meantime” in English. At the 2022 synod assembly, we dwelt in the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40). This year we dwell in the story of the conversion of Saul (Acts 9:1-19). These two stories at first seem in many ways unrelated but are connected in Scripture, being written one after the other and connected by the word “mientras tanto,” “meanwhile.” This year, while dwelling in one story, we also dwell in the reality that many stories are occurring at the same time, that God’s presence is in many places and the Spirit working within many people and communities.

In keeping with this theme, we present this year’s assembly logo.

The logo features the theme’s name, “Mientras Tanto” broken, and yet brought together, by the eight squares present.  

As the image shifts, we come to see that there are photos in each of the squares representing each of the eight conferences in our synod. 

Together we have the symbolism of the conferences of our synod which are very different, which operate individually, and yet which come together to form our body, a network of spirit empowered communities of disciples called and sent to live out the radically inclusive Gospel of Jesus through the promises of baptism, a network where we continue to see God’s work in each part as we do in their contributions to the whole.

There is a clear center through the image which the pictures do not break, representing the way of Christ, and in the pictures a gentle change of angle, marking the way that we experience the road of faith through the gentle curves of God’s guidance.

We look forward to seeing you this Spring and – meanwhile – we look forward to hearing more of the experiences of God’s presence in your conferences, communities, and congregations that we might better share the ways that God is working simultaneously across Southwestern Texas. 

Luis R. Torres-Hostos, PhD

Dr. Torres-Hostos is Founding Dean and Professor of the School of Social Work (SSW) at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg, TX. Under his leadership, the SSW is playing a key role in promoting health equity and social justice in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) and beyond. Among other initiatives, the School of Social Work has increased the number of faculty; expanded community-engaged research in topics impacting RGV communities; strengthened educational initiatives, developed bilingual courses, and increased student enrollment; developed new partnerships with agencies throughout the RGV, including the Latin American consulates; established an Office for International Social Work and a Human Mobility Institute; and is working on the development of a dual Master’s in Social Work and Master’s in Public Health and a binational doctoral program in social work. His research focuses on health disparities, social determinants of health, and community engagement with minority communities, and has been funded by federal, state, and private entities. Dr. Torres-Hostos has traveled and worked extensively in Latin America and has ongoing collaborations in Mexico, Central America, and Puerto Rico. He serves on local, national and international boards, including the National Alliance for Hispanic Families; SAMHSA’s National Hispanic/Latino Mental Health Technology Transfer Center; the American Red Cross South Texas Chapter; and the Red Internacional de Investigación e Intervención en Migración (RIIIM) at Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo Leon, Monterrey, México. A native of Puerto Rico, Dr. Torres has a doctorate in clinical psychology from Fordham University in New York City and over 30 years of clinical, teaching, administrative, and research experience at the intersection of social work, psychology, public health, medicine, and faith-based communities. 

The Rev. Rubén F Durán

The Rev. Rubén F Durán serves as Senior Advisor for New Ministry Development in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  He promotes Synodical mission strategies, local initiatives and innovative models nurturing life changing relationships in new and existing communities of faith in the USA and the Caribbean. He also resources 352 new mission congregations reaching people in multiple contexts throughout the country. He organizes on-going training opportunities for lay and rostered leaders and teaches at various seminaries.

Rubén is a native of Lima, Peru, South America. He served parishes in the Seattle, Washington and Los Angeles, California areas prior to becoming Associate to the Bishop and Mission Director for the Metropolitan Chicago Synod.  He has also served as Associate Director for Latino Outreach, Director for New Congregations, and Director for Congregational Vitality in the ELCA churchwide offices prior to his current position. He is also serving as Interim Pr. at New Hope-Nueva Esperanza Lutheran Church in Aurora, IL.

Rubén is a graduate of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California; Trinity Lutheran College in Seattle, Washington; and, the Escuela Nacional de Turismo in Lima, Peru. Ruben and his wife, the Rev. Jean Marie Duran, are parents of 3 adult daughters and grandparents of Arabella (9 years old), Teddy (3 years old), and Evelyn (3 also). 

Assembly Offering
Expanding the Impact of the Evangelical Mission Endowment Fund

This year we will expand the impact of the Evangelical Mission Endowment Fund by raising an additional $150,000. 

The Evangelical Mission Endowment Fund enables emerging missional efforts. Because of the Mission Endowment Fund:

  • Eagle Pass Frontera Ministries offers hope and hospitality to migrants at the border
  • Iglesia Luterana San Lucas provides sustaining nourishment for 100 families a month through their food bank
  • Pláticas de Santa Sofía shares the love and welcome of Christ to those experiencing houselessness in downtown San Antonio
  • Valley Metanoia Network creates new disciples and explores new ways of being church among young adults and Spanish speakers in the Rio Grande Valley.   

These are just some examples of the Kingdom work the Mission Endowment Fund supports.

“Thanks to the Evangelical Mission Endowment Fund, we were able to conduct effective ministry exploration that led us to move to the Great Valley of Texas to the city of McAllen. Once in the Valley we have been developing the launch team for Valley Metanoia Network. In addition, we work in fellowship with Valley churches intentionally to consolidate and expand congregational ministry among Latino communities. One of these efforts is outreach to young adults with an Ecology and Spirituality project” – Pastor Edwin Ortiz, Valley Metanoia Network  


Mientras Tanto: Meanwhile.

The Assembly theme comes from the first words of the 9th chapter of Acts: “Mientras tanto. ” While Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch in one place, God worked powerfully in the life of the unlikeliest person in another. On a road to Damascus, Paul who breathed threats against the church and brought them to persecution was brought to his knees before the Risen Christ, and in that space would begin his long journey towards apostleship.

Right now many experience a season of the church’s life where all conversations seem to be focused on the contraction of the church. Mientras tanto, God continues to work the power of the coming Kingdom and there are signs of life everywhere! The hands, heart, and feet of Jesus continue to deliver good news in, with and through us!

The Evangelical Mission Endowment fund plays an important role in this! Your gift will enable thes missional efforts.

To inspire us to reach this goal, we have two challenge gifts.

  • The first $50,000 given by and through congregations will be matched, dollar for dollar, doubling each gift. 
  • When 150 people give a gift of any size directly to the Southwestern Texas Synod, a special gift of $25,000 will be released.

These challenge gifts will empower us to meet our goal of $150,000, impacting critical ministries in our synod.

The world is struggling. Mientras tanto, God is acting for the reconciliation of all things and is calling us to act in partnership as well! Thank you for your generous partnership in this year’s Southwestern Texas Synod Assembly offering!

Synod Assembly Materials & Resources

In Person Learning Day

Gather at 9am - Closing Prayer at 4pm


Digital Business Day

Proposed Agenda

Proposed Standing Rules

Bulletin of Reports (coming April 19th)

Budget Hearing: April 30th @ 7pm
Click to register for Zoom link

Orientation: May 5th @ 7pm
Click to register for Zoom link

A Little More Information
This is a very different format for assembly and we will continue to post information as it becomes available. Contact info@swtsynod.org for questions.


  • Displayers: This year's assembly format is not conducive to having displayers. Please check back for display opportunities for the 2024 assembly.

  • Bulletin of Reports: The reports and documents for the business day of assembly will be made available online prior to the assembly. Partners in Ministry can submit a report to info@swtsynod.org by April 15th to be included.

  • Per the Proposed Standing Rules: Any motion for expenditure of funds or proposed amendment to the budget as presented by the Synod Council shall be submitted in writing to the Secretary or the Vice-Presidentprior to noon on May 6th. Click to contact.

  • Locations: We had to move the Austin location to Seguin. The Learning Day will be located at Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church in Seguin, Galilean Lutheran Church in Corpus Christi, and on Zoom. The Business Day will be on Zoom for voting members and on FacebookLive for non-voting members.        Attendees MUST register to be present.

  • Just like a weekend assembly, voting members are expected and non voting members invited to attend and participate synod assembly learning and business. This year’s assembly is simply split between two Saturdays instead of one weekend. Just like with a regular assembly; you pay for the whole thing even if you leave early/come late/don’t come at all. The Learning Day is open to anyone attending in person or on zoom. The Business Day is open to voting members via zoom and non voting members via facebook live. The price for voting members is $100 (price increase to $130 on April 1st). The price for non voting members is $50. The registration cost pays for the host churches, technology, speakers and food provided. 

  • Who is a voting member and how many can attend?

    • All Ministers of Word and Service (Deacons) & Ministers of Word and Sacrament (Pastors) under call

    • Vicars and Synod Authorized Ministers serving a congregation for at least a year

    • 5% of Rostered Ministers Not Under Call (identified through a selection process)

    • Congregations with fewer than 175 baptized members send *at least one (but no more than two) lay voting member

    • Congregations with at least 175 baptized members send two lay voting members (preferably a male and a female)

    • Congregations with at least 400 baptized members send three lay voting members (preferably a male and a female; no guidance on the 3rd member)

    • All Congregations may send an *additional youth (younger than 18 years old) OR young adult (18-30 years old)

    *Therefore, congregations with fewer than 400 baptized members would be allowed up to three lay voting members (two lay & one youth OR young adult) and congregations over 400 baptized members would be allowed four lay voting members (three lay & one youth OR young adult).
    (Congregations may send a *minimum of 1 lay voting member - *maximum of 3 or 4 lay voting members.)

May 3-5, 2024 Synod Assembly

*Now scheduled at the Omni Corpus Christi Hotel*

Many thanks to Pastor Katy Miles-Wallace for our Mientras tanto logo.

Questions? Contact info@swtsynod.org