Commemoration of the Emanuel 9

As part of the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, voting members adopted a resolution designating June 17 as a commemoration of the martyrdom of the Emanuel 9—the nine people shot and killed on June 17, 2015 during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
Our relationship to the shooter as well as two of the slain reminds us of both our complicity and our calling. Together we confess that we are in bondage to the sins of racism and white supremacy and, at the same time, we rejoice in the freedom that is ours in Christ Jesus who “has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us” (Ephesians 2:14). May God continue to guide us as we seek repentance and renewal, and racial justice and reconciliation among God’s precious children.
An online ELCA Prayer Service for the Commemoration of the Emanuel 9, with Bishop Eaton and leaders from around the church, is scheduled for 12 Noon EDT on June 17, the 5th anniversary of their martyrdom. More details will be available on the ELCA website soon. Congregations, ministries and leaders are encouraged to include this commemoration in your worship and conversations. A number of resources are available on the ELCA Website.

From the Bishop: An Invitation to Work Together for Racial Justice

June 15, 2020
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.Ephesians 2:13-16

Last fall, before COVID-19 kept us from traveling, I visited Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. After two days of visiting with students, meeting with faculty, and sitting in on classes, it was time to go home. A pastor offered to drive me to the airport, and I gratefully accepted his offer. I was tired of being in a suit and clergy collar, so I took my collar off, and packed my suit jacket into my carryon luggage. I said sheepishly to the pastor that I wanted to open my collar for the flight home, even though that meant people wouldn’t realize they were sitting with a clergyman. He replied that he always wore his collar when he travelled. I said, “You’re a better man than I,” to which he replied, “that’s not why I wear it. I wear it because I’m a black man. When I don’t wear it, I get pulled over by TSA. But when I wear it, I usually am allowed to pass through.” And I said to him, “You live a very different life than I do.” As he drove, he told me about that life, about how he has learned to be cautious when stopped by police, how he and his wife (who is white) get treated when they go out together, about a pattern of discrimination that he faces daily. He was not complaining. He was telling me about his life. And I learned again, not for the first time, that I was born with an advantage that others do not have, an advantage that comes from having white skin.
I have other stories of coming to that realization. When I was in the first class for my Doctoral degree, our cohort of ten sat in a circle. The final person to arrive in class was a woman of African descent. She looked at the only open chair and said to the class “Would someone please change places with me? I’m an African American woman and I never sit with my back to an open door.” I remember thinking that it would never have occurred to me to be concerned about sitting in that seat. I was once told by a Latino colleague that his parents always made sure he was well dressed when he went to school because they didn’t want him to be called out for being “dirty.” I was told by another colleague, an African descent woman, that she was thanked at a multi-synod event for a presentation given by another African descent woman who didn’t particularly look like her. These are things most of us have never experienced. I have never had to worry about where I sat in class, or about being called “dirty,” or being confused with some other short, dark-haired preacher, at least not to the extent that these colleagues were. Again, this comes from what is called “white privilege.”
I have talked to many people who reject the concept of “white privilege.” They claim, rightly so, that they have worked hard for all they have earned, and that their lives have not been easy. White privilege does not mean that white people live easy lives with no struggles. A good definition of white privilege comes from Francis E. Kendell, quoted in this article by Cory Collins: White privilege is “having greater access to power and resources than people of color [in the same situation] do.” White privilege allows me, through no merit of my own, to walk through a TSA checkpoint with little fear of being stopped, while my African descent colleague needs to wear a clergy collar to get the same treatment.
Such privilege is based on systemic racism, which allows us unconsciously to accept it as normal when white people are treated with respect and people of color are treated with suspicion. Such racism is deadly for people of color, as illustrated in the death of George Floyd which has shocked the nation. It is easy to blame killings like his on a few bad apples, some racist cops who are completely unlike the rest of us. But the problem of suspecting people of color more than white people is not the problem of a few unenlightened folks. It is a problem in all of society. There is no reason my African descent colleague should be treated any differently than me. And yet he is.
It is the nature of sinful human beings to suspect people who are different, who are “other” than we are, to be less worthy of the privileges we have for ourselves. For example, the Greeks had a word for anyone who was not Greek. The Greek word for non-Greeks is a word we know in English: “barbarians.” You know how that term is used now. The dictionary defines a barbarian as “a person in a savage, primitive state” or “a person without culture, refinement, or education.” But originally, “barbarian” just meant “outsider,” someone who is not one of us.
Jesus lived in a culture where there were insiders and outsiders. The insiders were the people of Israel. Anyone who was not was a Gentile, an outsider, not “one of us.” But when Christ died and rose again, Jesus did so to make all people one with God. After Jesus’ ascension, God sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost day. That Spirit allowed people to confess their sins and to realize that to continue to treat Gentiles as outsiders was not in keeping with what God wanted. As the verse from Ephesians quoted above reminds us, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” Again and again, the early church had to confess their sin of trying to keep the Gentiles out, trying to maintain a privilege that had been done away with by Christ’s cross and resurrection. Again and again, they had to repent and change their ways of worship, of thought, of life itself, in order to be one with the Gentiles who, like them, were also beloved children of God.
Good people of the Pacifica Synod, this is work we also have to do. We are called to repent, not just once but again and again, of the sin of racism, which so infects our lives and thoughts. We are called to action, to change our ways of worship, of thought, of life itself, in order to be one with our siblings of color who, like us, are beloved children of God. As Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton said in her sermon for Trinity Sunday, “Until the white majority feels within our soul that the pain and suffering of black and brown people is our own pain and suffering, it will not be safe to be black or brown in America.” Our work is to accept this pain as our pain, and to act to change ourselves and our society. By doing this, we participate in God’s work of healing the racial divide in our nation. By doing this, we participate in God’s work of breaking down the dividing wall of hostility between us.
We in the Pacifica Synod are committed to providing resources to guide this work. Our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Working Group is currently curating resources and they will be added to the Pacifica Synod website. if you would like to share a resource that has been helpful for your congregation or recommend an organization doing racial justice work in your local community that your congregation is partnering with, please send an email to Pastor Lara Martin at pastorlaramartin@gmail.com We seek resources for children, Confirmation, youth groups, young adults, inter=generational Bible studies, women’s groups, men’s studies, etc. As we receive resources and partnering organizations, we will post them on our website at www.pacificasynod.org
Our Churchwide offices also have resources. I encourage you to take time on June 17, this coming Wednesday, to participate in the worship service in commemoration of the Emanuel Nine. The worship service will be streamed live at 9 am Pacific Daylight Time, 6 am Hawai’i Standard Time here and will be available after that on the ELCA’s YouTube channel. The Emanuel Nine were nine African Americans who were meeting for Bible study at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015, when they were killed by a young white supremacist. Two of the participants were taking classes at Lutheran Southern Seminary, our ELCA seminary in Charleston. The young white supremacist had been confirmed in an ELCA congregation. As Bishop Eaton said at the time, “One of ours has killed two of ours.” It is a tragedy that the name of the gunman is more widely known that the names of those who were killed. I choose not to name the gunman here, but to honor those who were martyred that day: Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Mrs. Cynthia Graham Hurd, Mrs. Susie J. Jackson, Mrs. Ethel Lee Lance, Rev. DePayne Vontrease Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, Mr. Tywanza Kibwe Diop Sanders, Rev. Daniel Lee Simmons, Sr., and Mrs. Myra Singleton Quarles Thompson, AME Licentiate.
In response to these killings, to the lingering effects of racism, and to our church’s courageous decision not to ignore the history of our complicity in the perpetuation of racism, the ELCA issued an apology to the African Descent community for the sins of racism. This document contains a history of the Lutheran church’s response to slavery and discrimination, and calls for a repudiation of racism and white privilege. In order for such repudiation to become a reality, action is needed. Daily repentance is needed.
I hope you will join me in this work. I pray for the day when I never again am asked to change seats with a woman of African descent due to her concern about sitting with her back to an open door. I pray for a day when my siblings of color no longer need to concern themselves any more than their white neighbors with what they or their children wear. I pray for a day when people of color will be seen and recognized for who they are. I pray for a day when my colleagues of color can go through TSA checkpoints the same way I do. I pray for a day African Americans will be no more afraid of police than are white people, as we are both treated as valued members of the community. May God bless us, lead us in repentance, and help us to work for racial justice. May God lead us to that day.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop Andy Taylor/he, him, hisPacifica Synod of the ELCA
Together in Christ we equip, accompany, and serve boldly so all may experience God’s boundless grace.


Hope Council Message Regarding COVID-19

A Message from Council Regarding Church Policy on the COVID-19 Outbreak

Hope Lutheran Church 
Council Actions 
Response to COVID 19
Mar 20, 2020

This time last week we were canceling services for 2 weeks.  In the last 3 days it has become apparent that we will not be holding services for at least 60 days.  Council has held 2 conference call meetings to address the most urgent matters and create resolutions based on local, state, and national executive and national health orders (which are temporary law during a declared state of emergency): 
1. Reaching out to the whole congregation at least one time to make sure they know of cancellation
2. Establishing best practices within the law for employees.  
These have taken considerable work as the standards have shifted dramatically about every 36 hours.  Upon each decision, before full implementation could be made, it was irrelevant.  
This document is to outline the minimum standards for our congregation, council, pastor, and staff.  

First and foremost:  we are a people under the law even as we live in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.  In all things we shall extend grace to one another as this virus moves through the land.  This includes the council, staff, and pastor. If one of these becomes ill with the virus, the congregation will be notified, offered an opportunity to fill the gap,  and will support in the best and healthiest ways possible.  

The current Emergency mandates of California as of 20 March 2020 state that we are to remain home and only essential personnel are exempt.  Churches and their staff are not in the 16 categories of essential sectors considered exempt. For the congregation of Hope Lutheran this means:
-No one is to report to work on premises.  Work that can be achieved at home will continue to be done.  Employees are given an opportunity to gather their essential documents and return home.  Council has now approved procedures, guidelines based on insurance and synodical guidance, and necessary costs adjacent to this shift.
-No visitation to one another, including at hospitals or to shut-ins.  This includes the council and pastor. 
-No funerals.  This is currently considered an exposure and is NOT exempt.  
-No worship in person on the premises.  
-No gathering of any kind. 

Considering the level of activity at Hope Lutheran, these four (4) remaining areas were identified as needing address and resolution as of 20 Mar 2020 and remaining concerns such as safety and upkeep of the property and expenses and income will be addressed in the following week.  
Alternatives to Worship
Alternatives to Pastoral Care
Council meetings and mode
Communication to congregation

Alternatives to Worship: 
Recognizing the congregation has a wide variety of access to digital resources, and with no ability to mail items to the congregation, creating a home based worship is the goal.  A home based worship will be e-mailed to the congregation on Saturday March 21. All members will be encouraged to worship weekly from the safety of their space and will also be invited to use technology to join in worship online.  There will be a live feed on facebook (requires an account) and youtube(does not require an account). The pantry remains open to those in need of food and old LBW (green) hymnals are available to take home during that time for free.  
There is a tremendous discussion on the theology of “online- live” communion.  A further letter will follow regards to this matter. In the meantime, the pastor will lead in the way to which she is called by the Spirit, through The Use of the Means of Grace (a formal document in the ELCA), her commitment to her ordination vows, and the needs of the community.    

Alternatives to Pastoral Care: 
The pastor will make every attempt to offer pastoral care within reason for the health and welfare of all concerned
The pastor will NOT endeavor to put herself or others in harm’s way for the sake of in-person care.  We trust the Holy Spirit is with us and is seen in the actions of all humanity in many ways. All possible care will be offered via technological means to include phone, email, and social media. One-to-one meetings may be done via telephone, webcam, or email.  The pastor shall reach up and out for her own personal and spiritual health and well being; spending as much time as necessary to remain a non-anxious presence.  

Council Meetings and Mode: 
In this time of crisis, we must carefully identify what our roles are, and if possible, adjust them to meet the original intent. 
The council will continue to manage the policies, procedures, and business of the congregation.  However, “congregational life” at this time is largely suspended. There is currently not a council member overseeing social justice matters, however as long as there are volunteers, food, and need, the pantry will remain open every Monday and Wednesday from 9:30-Noon.  All volunteers will be required to sign a waiver of health and acknowledgment of risk each day. The pastor will do the same. Council will communicate with the congregation on matters of finance and decision making in as timely a manner as possible, recognizing that information and subsequent decisions are rapidly changing and should our bookkeeper become ill, information may not be as timely.  Council will communicate weekly with the congregation through telephone tree and email through the office manager.  

Communication to the Congregation: 
While it is our desire to offer continued care and community at the level and in the manner to which we are accustomed, that is not possible at this time. 
The council and pastor are neither health care nor government leaders and as such, should not give advice on health and public safety matters.  All members should rely on the CDC and public health entities of our local government for this information. A list of recommended resource links will be included with this document.  The council, pastor, and office manager are encouraged but not mandated to share public documents for management of the COVID-19 virus and outbreak and should include the source of such information.  

Members are encouraged to reach out to one another often in order to sustain a sense of community and care.  
The office manager will continue to manage office correspondence, financial secretary duties, and dissemination of council and pastoral news via technological means.This means there will NOT be mailed letters at this time due to the restrictions of attending non-essential jobs in person.  Currently, no one on staff has sufficient ability to mail letters to the entire congregation without breaking the law which is set in place for our health and welfare. Email will be encouraged for all members and the few that have absolutely no computer access will be called more often. All information disseminated on social media in written form will be available via email.  Members will be given a link which does not require an “account” to follow live worship. Of course, anyone is welcome to reach out to the council or pastor should they desire more communication. The most recent directory is being shared as an attachment.  

In the meantime, what can we do?  Firstly, pray. The Lord hears our hearts and accompanies us in even the darkest of times. LIft up your hearts to the Lord often.  
Secondly, praise.  We have been given a life full of beauty and joy.  This is a hard time and we will know grief in it. None of that diminishes the joy and beauty.  So cling to it and praise God for it. 
Thirdly, call or write.  Send a note to a companion or fellow member.  Call them to check in. Offer them space for whatever they are feeling and do not diminish their feelings.  Just let them feel with you. Offer them a word of hope and grab some scripture together.  
Speaking of scripture, dive in.  You have all the time to read it all the way through.  Discover the Bible again. Find comfort and lament, praise and prayer. Renew your understanding of the story of God with us.  
Finally, live now.  There is enough pain and sorrow for tomorrow.  Enjoy and love today (of course within health standards right now).  Dance like nobody’s watching, love like it is the last time, smile and give this day all the joy it deserves. 

The times ahead are fraught with danger and fear.  Do not let them win. Instead lean not on your own understanding, but on Christ Jesus.  In him, there is hope and promise.  


Sunday Worship ONLINE- 9 am

Usually you could join us in worship at 2882 Arlington Avenue and we would be thrilled to welcome you in. For now, we must seek community and support as we worship together online through our live worship on youtube. (click on the highlighted words and it will take you right there!).

We will begin with gathering and community the first 30 minutes and at 9:30 we will begin our worship together. To be part of the live and interactive group or to have the order of worship, please sign up for our mailing list.

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s special Christmas message

Precisely in our distress, in our dislocation, the Lord shows up. Emmanuel—God with us—makes his home in the very places we find foreign or isolating.

The room was spare and dimly lit. We sat on folding chairs in a circle—young Honduran women and some of us from the ELCA. We had come to Honduras to observe the work of AMMPARO (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities). This is the ELCA’s strategy to help youth who have been forced to flee their home countries because of violence, abuse, extortion by gangs and extreme poverty. Amparo is the Spanish word for shelter or refuge.

In this case, AMMPARO partnered with the Lutheran World Federation and the Mennonites to resettle returned migrants—those who had tried to seek asylum in the United States but had failed or had been denied and deported back to Honduras.

One by one they told us their stories of fear and desperation. Not a one undertook the long and dangerous trek north on a whim. They told us about the abuse they had suffered, about family members who had been killed by gangs, about the inability to make a living because of the extortion by organized crime. They talked about the bitter sadness of leaving home and family, and the uncertainty of the future.

I remember one young woman in particular. She was pregnant when she tried to migrate to the United States. She had the baby somewhere along the way. She was far from home, mostly alone and desperately wanted her mother to be with her. None of this is what she had hoped for when she was growing up. Circumstances beyond her control had forced her into this new and strange existence. She and her baby were now back in Honduras—but not at home. Home was too dangerous.

Remember last Christmas? Remember all of the preparations, the travel to be with family? Remember the holy beauty of the Christmas Eve liturgy and receiving Christ’s grace and forgiveness at his table? The shopping and Christmas caroling? The in-person gatherings? All that has changed. The pandemic hasn’t forced us from our homes but into our homes, sheltering in place, isolated. Not together, but physically distanced. Not gathered with family and friends, but forced apart because of the threat of infection. Forced by circumstances beyond our control into this strange existence. Oh, there will be Christmas carols piped into grocery stores and other essential services, but they will be painful reminders of how life used to be.

We are reminded of the experience of the exiles in Babylon: “By the rivers of Babylon—there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our harps. For there our captives asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’ How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land” (Psalm 137)?

I told the young Honduran woman about another young woman who was forced to leave home because of a government decree. She, too, was pregnant and made a long and difficult journey. She, too, was far from home and without her mother when the baby came. She had to find shelter wherever she could. This wasn’t what she had hoped for when she was growing up. Circumstances beyond her control had forced her into this new existence. That young woman was Mary and the child was Jesus. Precisely in our distress, in our dislocation, the Lord shows up. Emmanuel—God with us—makes his home in the very places we find foreign or isolating. The young Honduran woman, and all of us, can find hope because of the birth of Mary’s child. There is no God-forsaken place and we are never alone—not in hospital rooms, or sheltering in place, or Zoom calls or on dangerous roads.

Many of us will not be physically home for Christmas, but we are truly home in Christ.


Express your top COVID-19 priorities with a customized letter to Congress through the ELCA Action Center.Since the CARES Act was passed in March of this year, Congress has been unable to pass any new economic or emergency relief in response to the impacts of the coronavirus. But this week, Congress and White House leaders have restarted talks on making a new compromise before the end of the year. This is a critical moment for faith leaders across the country to contact their lawmakers AGAIN to urge a new deal soon.

If a new spending deal is not passed soon, due to several upcoming deadlines, the start of the New Year could have disastrous fiscal consequences for the millions of Americans facing hunger, housing insecurity and lack of employment. Federal unemployment insurance assistance is set to run out on December 26 of this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium temporarily halting evictions and keeping families in homes will end on December 31, compounding hardships. Meanwhile, low-income immigrant households have failed to see any assistance, while states across the country are meeting staggering budget shortfalls. All of these factors combined could lead to a new eviction and foreclosure crisis as we grapple with further raising COVID-19 infection rates and crippling blows to the U.S. economy.

Over the course of the pandemic, houses of worship have served faithfully helping those of us in the greatest need. You can help amplify that action by calling for meaningful assistance in our policies and structures.Review some topline issues facing those of us in the greatest need.Write your own customized letter to your lawmakers with your top concerns – urging them to take action BEFORE the end of the year.Share this message with your friends, family and fellow advocates – be sure they take action before the end of this week!As negotiators meet, this is our last chance for meaningful action this year. Take action and send your own message to Congress through the ELCA Action Center today. Thank you.Go to the Action Alert to write your letter today!

The Blessing of Clean Drinking Water

Cholita (third from the left) reads prayers of dedication at the start of well-boring operations.

The Brahmaputra River, one of the great waterways of India, flows through the state of Assam and into Bangladesh. But this doesn’t mean the people living along the river are blessed with water. The people of Konsaigaon, in particular, have always had to walk far from their homes to get water. They often have to drink unsafe water, which causes gastrointestinal diseases that can be fatal.

Gaining access to the best water source meant building a road into the hills for equipment to be brought in, and pipes had to be laid to reach the village. Work commenced in mid-May, with a young volunteer, Cholita, managing the project. Within days, workers struck water almost 800 feet below ground. The water is pure, reported Bishop Ichahak Muchahary of the Bodo Evangelical Lutheran Church. “It’s been a great day of blessing to those living in that place. Hallelujah,” he said.

This new water source will directly affect 300 villagers. But the effects will reach much further, with some 10,000 indirect beneficiaries, including those attending church trainings, meetings and seminars at the church mission point there. Read more stories in Global Mission Updates here.

In Memoriam: The Rev. H.G. (Skip) McComas

We have received word of the death of
The Rev.H.G. (Skip) McComason September 30, 2020
Please keep his wife Elena; sons Scott, Tony, and Ryan; along with the entire family in your prayers.

The Rev. H.G. “Skip” McComas was born on October 22, 1947. He was ordained on February 21, 1999 and began his first call at that time as Associate Pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Temecula, where he served until 2008. He then served as Pastor of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Whittier until his retirement in April 2013, when he and his wife Elena moved to Ocean Pines, Maryland. We give thanks for his ministry within the Pacifica Synod.

 If we live, we live to the Lord,and if we die, we die to the Lord;so then, whether we live or whether we die,we are the Lord’s.Romans 14:8

From the Presiding Bishop: A Pastoral Word on the Grand Jury Decision in Louisville

September 24, 2020
​For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. ― Ephesians 2:14
In response to the grand jury decision in Louisville, Ky., we offer a word of prayer and healing following the decision not to charge police officers for Breonna Taylor’s death. As a nation, we are struggling with and divided by the decision. It has affected so many of us in so many ways. We grieve the brokenness of the criminal justice system. We are tired and weary of the violence. Has not God created all of us to have inherent dignity, value and worth? 
Despite the anger, violence and injustice connected with this sad and horrible tragedy, we should not abandon our neighbors. Our baptismal covenant with God calls us to better relationship with one another than we are currently demonstrating. We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ’s presence in the world. The covenantal relationship we have with God in Christ leads us to our neighbors in a common cause to confront the reality of systemic racism in our country. 
We come together at the cross. The proclamation of the gospel is the only nonnegotiable in the life of this church. Yet, we know the gospel can be divisive for us in our ministry for justice and peace. As we dwell in God’s word, we pray God will give us the strength and the courage to act in service of the gospel’s free course for the life of the world. 
Because of the cross, we have peace; we have hope; we are loved. We join with you in prayer for the Taylor family, Officer Hankison and his family, the prosecutor and his family, the grand jurors and their families, the community of Louisville and all who work for justice and peace. 
In Christ, 
Elizabeth A. Eaton- Bishop Evangelical Lutheran Church in America                     William O. Gafkjen- Presiding Bishop Indiana-Kentucky Synod, ELCA                          



From the Pacifica SynodSeptember 7, 2020

Dear members and friends of the Pacifica Synod,
It appears that once again, there are emails being sent from a person representing themselves as Bishop Andy. Religious organizations have become easy targets for these types of scams, which take advantage of people’s generosity. 

Just a reminder, no one on the synod staff will ever email you asking for you to send money, gift cards, perform “some tasks” for them, click a link to learn more, or include a vague message asking for a “favor” and for you to respond immediately . You can hover your cursor over the sender’s email address (without clicking it) to view the address of the true sender or call the synod office if you are in doubt. Valid email addresses for all synod staff members include their full name @pacificasynod.org.
Please delete such emails and don’t reply back or click on any links contained within the message. For more information from the FCC on these types of emails, please click the link below.

How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams – FCC

In Christ,            

The Staff of the Pacifica Synod

From the Bishop: Updated Worship Guidelines for California and Hawai’i

September 1, 2020

Dear Rostered Ministers and Lay Leaders of the Pacifica Synod,
New guidelines regarding the re-opening of businesses, including places of worship, have been distributed by the governors of both Hawai’i and California in the past couple of weeks. These guidelines have been developed in cooperation with public health officials, and are intended not to stop worship, but to stop the spread of COVID-19. I urge you to continue to offer online worship, and to abide by these guidelines so that we may do our part to stop the spread of this deadly virus.

In California, Governor Newsom unveiled a new “tiered” system for each county, which you can access here. The tiers are based on the severity of the virus in each county. The most severe, “Widespread” is color-coded in purple, and in these counties, only outdoor worship is approved. The next tier, “Substantial,” is color-coded in red, and in these counties, indoor worship may take place, but numbers must be limited to 25% of total capacity of the Sanctuary, or 100 people, whichever is fewer. The next tier, “moderate,” is color-coded in tan, and worship may be indoors with 50% of maximum capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer. The final tier is “Minimal,” and Sanctuaries may open with a maximum capacity of 50%, no matter what the numbers.

Three of the four counties in which our Pacifica Synod congregations reside are in the “Widespread” tier, which means churches in Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties are only to worship outdoors at this time. San Diego County is in the “Substantial” tier which means churches in that county may move indoors provided they allow in no more than 25% of the maximum capacity of the sanctuary.

Each church must have in place COVID-19 mitigation policies, whether you operate indoors or outdoors. To learn more about how to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in your church, the state offers a guidebook which you can access here.

In Hawai’i, I do not have specific information about guidelines for worship for our three congregations on Maui, Kaua’i, and the big island of Hawai’i. The island of O’ahu issued new guidelines on August 20 which stay in effect through September 16. In summary, churches can continue to hold worship in person following the mandates of the general order which is found here. Churches are covered in “Exhibit A” which addresses “Designated Businesses,” under sections 10 and 11 for “Drive-in Spiritual Services” and “In-Person Spiritual Services.” Worshippers not living in the same household must stay physically distanced at least six feet from other worshippers. If the church has a choir, they must be a group of ten or fewer, must stay 10 feet apart from others and, if possible, erect a physical barrier between them and anyone not in the performing group. (See section 23b at the end of the document for details.)

I urge all of our churches to be aware of health directives and all that is necessary to disinfect places of worship to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Many of our churches are continuing to meet online, and I thank them for doing so. I urge churches in counties where public health directives mandate outdoor only worship not to worship indoors, but to worship outside and/or worship online. May God be with you as you continue to worship and serve the Lord, whether inside, outdoors, or online.

Yours in Christ,
Bishop Andy Taylor/he, him, his
Pacifica Synod of the ELCA
Together in Christ we equip, accompany, and serve boldly so all may experience God’s boundless grace.

Lutheran World Relief Responds to Beirut Explosions

Lutheran World Relief recently learned that three 40-foot shipping containers filled with thousands of handmade mission quilts and school, personal and baby care kits were destroyed in the devastating August 4 explosions at the port of Beirut, Lebanon.
The shipment was destined for refugees living in Lebanon, principally from Syria and the Palestinian territories. The containers were part of a shipment to be distributed by Anera, an NGO and longtime Lutheran World Relief partner that serves refugees and other vulnerable communities in the Middle East. The total value of the lost shipments was approximately $624,000.
The loss of more than 22,000 quilts, sewn by individuals and members of Lutheran congregations across the U.S., could mean a more bitter winter for thousands of refugees. “Our quilts are made with love by those who painstakingly craft them, and they’re deeply appreciated by the people in distress who receive them, both for the warmth and the message of care they provide,” said Melanie Gibbons, deputy director, outreach and engagement at Lutheran World Relief.
For more information or to donate: https://lwr.org/beirut

In Memoriam of The Reverend Laura (Laurie) A. Lineon

We have received word of the death of
The Rev.Laura (Laurie) A. Line
on July 31, 2020
Please keep her children Rachel and Brandon and the entire family in your prayers.
Cards or notes of condolences may be sent to:Rachel Line and Brandon Line750 Murray DriveEl Cajon, CA 92020
The Rev. Laura Line was born on November 5, 1956. She was ordained on May 26, 2001 and began her first call at that time as Associate Pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church in San Diego, where she served until 2004. She also served Lemon Grove Lutheran in Lemon Grove (2008-2009) and Clairemont Lutheran in San Diego (2012-2014). In between settled calls, Pastor Laurie served a variety of congregations as Interim Pastor including Good Shepherd Lutheran in Alpine and Cross & Crown Lutheran in Rancho Cucamonga. In addition, she served as Dean of the (former) Sonshine Conference (now the East San Diego Conference).
 If we live, we live to the Lord,and if we die, we die to the Lord;so then, whether we live or whether we die,we are the Lord’s.Romans 14:8

In Memoriam of The Rev. Dr. Albert W Stotton

We have received word of the death of
The Rev. Dr. Albert W. Stott
on July 22, 2020
Please keep his family in your prayers.
Cards or notes of condolences may be sent to:The Family of the Rev. Dr. Albert Stott1321 East J StreetChula Vista, CA 91910
The Rev. Dr. Albert Stott was born on January 3, 1939 and ordained on May 26, 1963. He began his ministry as Asst. Pastor at Atonement Lutheran Church in Wyomissing, PA from 1963 to 1966. He also served as a U.S. Navy Chaplain from 1962 to 1992 and was awarded the ELCA God & Country Medal for 30 years of service as a Chaplain in the Armed Forces.
As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, he provided pastoral counseling to individuals and couples in San Diego beginning in 1996 through the San Diego Pastoral Counseling Center and the New Life Counseling Center at First United Methodist Church. He began serving as a volunteer Pastoral Assistant at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Chula Vista in 2000.
In 2013, he celebrated 50 years of ordination and was described as a faithful steward of the mysteries of our Lord and a proclaimer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
 If we live, we live to the Lord,and if we die, we die to the Lord;so then, whether we live or whether we die,we are the Lord’s.Romans 14:8