I am a member of the Buffalo Synod.
No, I am not talking about the Buffalo Synod that was one of the myriad of Lutheran Synods in the United States during the 1800's.
Instead, I am talking about a ministerium of Lutheran pastors from the Sioux City, Iowa, area, which gathers each Friday afternoon at a tavern called Buffalo Alice, in Sioux City's Historic 4th Street district.
What do we do? Well, most of us eat pizza. Some of us drink beer - 99% of the time, I do not, since I normally have to return to the office to work at the day job.
Most importantly, we talk about theology and the church. Sometimes, we are critical of the church, but our criticism is always based out of our love for the church. It is a place where we can be open about our thoughts without fear of recrimination, and a place where we can talk about deep theological issues without taking ourselves too seriously.
As a non-traditional seminary student who was trained through distance education, it was crucial for me to have a group to go to near my home where I could find a place with a high level level of discussion, and the Buffalo Synod fit the bill perfectly. If trends continue and the traditional, residential seminary system will one day no longer be the predominant method of training pastors, then it will be up to groups like the Buffalo Synod to pick up the slack and provide seminarians with an opportunity to engage in theological discussions, as well as build relationships with colleagues.
Out here on the frontier of Western Iowa, we are far away from any seminaries or universities with notable theology faculty, but I would stack the depth of our theological discussions up against any other group of pastors that meets anywhere else in the country. Well, some days, maybe not. On those days, as our Abbot would say, there must have been beer involved.