Circuits generally meet givging the local clergy a chance to dialog. The Pastoral Conference offers it to districts or sections of districts once or twice a year. Synodical conventions happen every three years but for the benefit of a very limited group within the Church. But it would be nice if there was an occasional gathering of regions. We suffer in church bodies from the increasing suspicions, divisions (geographical as well as ideological) and distance which confirms stereotypes and prevents the honest conversations essential to unity of doctrine and practice. This is not good. People on the coasts have a view of the heartland and people in the heartland have a view of the folks on the coasts and neither is very flattering. Not good.
I might be an anomoly in all of this with roots in Nebraska, history in the Atlantic District (Long Island and Upstate), location in the Mid-South (Tennessee), and frequent conferences, symposia, and meetings. I have family in Ft. Wayne and get there often and am only four hours from St. Louis. Still, I lament how seldom I meet with or talk to LCMS Pastors only 1-2 hours away -- much less those much further from me. I wonder often if I am the only one who thinks this way, the only one who faces this problem or that, or the only one who struggles with this or that. I wonder if I am the only one or whether there are other brothers who lament the same distance (again, geographical and theological) and what it has done to our collegiality as clergy and our life together (koinonia) as a church body.
Once the common experiences of the Junior and Senior College system and the two Seminaries bound us clergy together with significant ties well beyond simple likes/dislikes/interest/ideology. With the loss of these unifying elements, it is easier to feel a distance that may not always be there. The move from a single to a married student body further diluted the opportunity for a collegial clergy and its resulting familiarity and trust.
So what can we do?