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.


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

2020 Pacifica Synod Assembly Postponed to 2021

The following announcement was shared with our synod on June 17. For a printable version of this letter, along with Frequently Asked Questions about this postponement,please click here. We will be publishing a compilation of some of the usual Synod Assembly reports, financial and statistical information in early August. They will be sent out by email and posted on our website to download.

Dear People of the Pacifica Synod,
As you know, the 2020 Synod Assembly scheduled to take place at California Lutheran University at the end of May was postponed due to COVID-19. We thought about rescheduling to August. However, we believe that the best advice will continue to deem it unwise to gather together in large numbers. At a special Synod Council meeting held on Saturday, June 13 for the sole purpose of discussing this issue, the Synod Council passed the following motion: Due to the extraordinary circumstances of a global pandemic, Synod Council votes to postpone the 2020 Pacifica Synod Assembly to May 2021 and combine it with theregularly scheduled 2021 Pacifica Synod Assembly.
 What Does This Mean?(An excellent Lutheran question.) During this time of physical distancing for the sake of the health of the neighbor, an assembly of the voting members of the Pacifica Synod is not possible in person.  We considered holding our assembly via Zoom. While this platform is being used successfully for smaller meetings, the expertise to conduct a synod assembly, in which everyone can hear and be heard to conduct the business of the synod is currently beyond our expertise. We need time for the synod staff and Assembly Planning Team to acquire the knowledge, skills, and technical equipment to successfully host an assembly on-line. The Synod Council has decided that the best way forward would be to plan now to hold the 2021 Pacifica Synod Assembly on Saturday, May 1 online either via Zoom with individual voting members attending from home, or at different satellite locations where smaller groups could gather (if allowed by public health regulations). If we use satellite locations, the locations will be connected with each other either through Zoom or another platform. This plan will allow time to obtain the necessary tools, expertise, and training for staff and voting members.  This decision was not made easily. We thank the Synod Council and staff for many hours of deliberation to find the best solution to a problem none of us could have foreseen. Frequently Asked Questions are listed below. For additional questions, please reach out to your pastor, conference dean, or the Office of the Bishop. Yours in Christ, Bishop Andy Taylor (he/him/his)                               Lori Herman, (she/her/hers)Pacifica Synod Bishop                                               Pacifica Synod Council Vice President

Racial Justice Statement of the Pacifica Synod

July 2, 2020
Dear Pastors, Deacons, and Congregation Presidents of the Pacifica Synod,
Your Synod Council members have signed the ELCA’s Anti-Racism Pledge, and the Council has written a statement expressing support for the work of racial justice, with a commitment to engage in the “difficult and necessary work of repentance and change.” You will find this statement immediately following this message.
We ask you and your church leadership to join us. Please read and discuss the Synod Council’s statement and deliberate on what God might be calling you to do to build a more just, peaceful world for all of God’s people. We’d like to hear what creative ministries are emerging at this time to help further God’s work of justice in Pacifica Synod congregations and ministries.
Please prayerfully consider this request. After your council has met and discussed this issue, we ask you to respond. Please send your responses to Carol Youngman at CarolYoungman@pacificasynod.org. Tell us about the discussion, what you have decided to do, and what ministries have already begun in response to the call to work for racial justice.
Thank you for your partnership in this ministry. Remember that God’s love and grace is freely given to you, and that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has set you free. St. Paul reminds us in Galatians 5 that we are not to use this freedom for ourselves alone, but to live more loving lives in service to one another and to our neighbors. God bless you as you consider how to use your freedom to work for racial justice and thus to serve God’s people in love.
Yours in Christ Jesus,

Bishop Andy Taylor                                             Lori Herman, Synod Council Vice President
Together in Christ we equip, accompany, and serve boldlyso all may experience God’s boundless grace.Together in Christ we are Pacifica Synod
Statement of the Pacifica Synod CouncilThe killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Dreasjon (Sean) Reed, and George Floyd are among the most recent in a long history of too many similar tragedies. In June, we also joined in remembrance of the Emanuel Nine, nine African Americans killed by a young, self-professed white supremacist during Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015, and we recall, with sadness, that their killer was once a member of an ELCA congregation. And we clearly see that some people are more likely to be stopped or killed by police, to suffer from illnesses including COVID-19, and to be denied loans, housing, or a greater income, and to face other discrimination because of the color of their skin.
Christ died and rose again to make all people one with God. As Ephesians 2:13-14 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.” If we are all children of God, then it is a sin against God and our neighbors to stand by, indifferent to a society that causes some to suffer more than others, and that unjustly benefits some more than others.
We are called to repent. As Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton said in her sermon for Trinity Sunday, “Until the white majority feels within their 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.” And we are called to act. We must change ourselves and our society. We are called to join in God’s work of breaking down the dividing walls in our society and making us into one.
We ask each person in our synod to personally commit to the difficult and necessary work of repentance and change. To learn about the history of racial discrimination and its lingering effects, and to take steps to change them. To be better citizens and to better manifest our love for our neighbors and God. We also ask each of our synod’s congregations to commit to this work. To develop an anti-racism plan and to partner with racial justice organizations. To be God’s church in the world.
Please join us in taking the ELCA Anti-Racism Pledge: https://elca.org/racialjusticepledge.Our churchwide and synod offices have resources to help us, found at https://elca.org/emanuelnine and www.pacificasynod.org. Our synod’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Working Group will add more resources over time. Bishop Andy Taylor recently sent a letter inviting us to work together for racial justice, which we echo.
We, the members of your synod council, have committed to doing this work in the synod, in each of our own congregations, and in our lives. The Office of the Bishop’s staff has joined us. Will you join us, too?
Bishop Andrew TaylorLori HermanAngela JacksonTom PankowDámaris AllenMaura BelandThe Rev. Linda BrownJeff CoursBecky DraperAnthony EderMark FornwallFreya HendricksonGreta HobsonThe Rev. Jeff LilleyGerald MarecekDaneen PyszNicolette RohrThe Rev. Maria Santa CruzThe Rev. Jennifer ShawThe Rev. Brian TaylorThe Rev. Terry Tuvey Allen The Rev. Tom Goellrich Rachel Line Terri Robertson Carol Youngman  

E.L.C.A. Celebrates 50 Years of Ordained Women

“The Church of Christ in every age, beset by change but Spirit-led, must claim and test its heritage, and keep on rising from the dead”
(Fred Pratt Green, 1969).

Dear church,

Words matter. Words matter in our Scripture, in our hymns, in our governing documents, and beyond. Fifty years ago, on June 29, 1970, the Lutheran Church in America voted to change the word “man” to “person” in its bylaws and opened the door for the ordination of women. The American Lutheran Church achieved the same thing by resolution a few months later. The church was led by the Spirit to change. At the time it was scary for some. Fifty years later, it is now part of our heritage.

Fifty years later we celebrate the anniversary as a whole church. The influence of those decisions 50 years ago is not merely the impact on women. This is a celebration for the whole church, because the whole church has been strengthened by the gifts of ordained women in its leadership. We celebrate how these pastors have shared the Word, including with words of compassion, conviction, and curiosity. We also give thanks for the moments when there are no words, but they have offered their presence.

We also know that women who are pastors have struggled in ways men who are pastors have not. They deal with sexual harassment, disrespect, and often lower pay due to gender-based discrimination. The first women of color in our predecessor bodies weren’t ordained until 1979. And it wasn’t until 2009 that barriers to ordination were removed for LGBTQIA+ individuals in committed relationships. We know that racism and heterosexism complexify and intensify these problems. This discrimination is also part of our heritage, and something that we need to continue to work to eliminate.
In recognition of this 50th anniversary on June 29th, I invite you to express gratitude to a pastor who is a woman for how she has influenced your life. It could be by letter or email, or by other means. If you post on social media, please use the hashtag #thankyoupastor. If you would like more resources for celebrating this year, go to elca.org/50yearsofordainedwomen, which has an adult forum, Bible Study, video, and worship materials.
Fifty years after 1970, we also live in a world beset by change. I am grateful for the Spirit who continues to lead us and for the women God has called to minister to us.

I thank God for all of you who minister so faithfully.

In Christ,

Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”
Galatians 3:28.

ELCA reaffirms commitment to combat racism and white supremacy

5/29/2020 2:45:00 PM

What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8).

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) reaffirms its commitment to combating racism and white supremacy following the recent murders of Black Americans. Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Dreasjon (Sean) Reed, and George Floyd were our neighbors. Ahmaud Arbery was chased down, shot, and killed by a retired police officer and his son while jogging in Brunswick, Ga. (Feb. 23, 2020). Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was shot eight times by Louisville Metro Police Department officers who entered her apartment while serving a “no-knock warrant” (March 13, 2020). Dreasjon (Sean) Reed, a 21-year-old from Indianapolis died after being shot at least eight times by an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer (May 6, 2020). George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis while begging for his life, a block away from Calvary Lutheran, an ELCA congregation (May 25, 2020). As the Conference of Bishops, we condemn the white supremacy that has led to the deaths of so many unarmed Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color in our country. We grieve with, pray for and stand in solidarity with the families and friends of all whose loved ones have been and continue to be victims of injustices run amok, racist violence and the insidious venom of white supremacy.

The ELCA’s social policy resolution, “Condemnation of White Supremacy and Racist Rhetoric,” adopted by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, states: “As persons called to love one another as God has loved us, we therefore proclaim our commitment to speak with one voice against racism and white supremacy. We stand with those who are targets of racist ideologies and actions.” As church, together we must work to condemn white supremacy in all forms and recommit ourselves to confront and exorcize the sins of injustice, racism and white supremacy in church and society and within ourselves as individuals and households.

On May 21, the ELCA Southeastern Synod hosted a webinar: “Becoming the Body of Christ – Condemning White Supremacy” in response to the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. This is one of many strategic opportunities happening across this church to address white supremacy and racist rhetoric. On June 17, we will gather again as church to commemorate the Mother Emanuel 9 and to repent of racism and white supremacy. An online ELCA prayer service, including leaders from across the church and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton as preacher, is being planned for June 17, 2020, marking the fifth anniversary of the martyrdom of the Emanuel 9. We encourage congregations to reaffirm their commitment to repenting of the sins of racism and dismantling white supremacy that continue to plague this church by marking this day of penitence with study and prayer leading to action.  https://www.elca.org/emanuelnine

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton

Presiding Bishop

Deacon Sue Rothmeyer              


The Rev. Tracie L. Bartholomew              

Bishop, New Jersey Synod                                      

Chair, Conference of Bishops

The Rev. Thomas M. Aitken       

Bishop, Northeastern Minnesota Synod

The Rev. Abraham D. Allende    

Bishop, Northeastern Ohio Synod

The Rev. Jon V. Anderson           

Bishop, Southwestern Minnesota Synod

The Rev. James A. Arends           

Bishop, La Crosse Area Synod

The Rev. Daniel G. Beaudoin      

Bishop, Northwestern Ohio Synod

The Rev. Susan J. Briner

Bishop, Southwestern Texas Synod

The Rev. Shelley M. Bryan Wee 

Bishop, Northwest Washington Synod

The Rev. Michael L. Burk            

Bishop, Southeastern Iowa Synod

The Rev. Susan Candea 

Bishop, Central States Synod

The Rev. H. Jeffrey Clements      

Bishop, Northern Illinois Synod

The Rev. Barbara J. Collins         

Bishop, Upper Susquehanna Synod

The Rev. Yehiel Curry    

Bishop, Metropolitan Chicago Synod

The Rev. Patricia A. Davenport  

Bishop, Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod

The Rev. Suzanne D. Dillahunt

Bishop, Southern Ohio Synod

The Rev. James S. Dunlop           

Bishop, Lower Susquehanna Synod

The Rev. Paul T. Egensteiner      

Bishop, Metropolitan New York Synod

The Rev. Paul D. Erickson            

Bishop, Greater Milwaukee Synod

The Rev. R. Guy Erwin   

Bishop, Southwest California Synod

The Rev. Katherine A. Finegan   

Bishop, Northern Great Lakes Synod

The Rev. William O. Gafkjen       

Bishop, Indiana-Kentucky Synod

The Rev. Michael K. Girlinghouse            

Bishop, Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod

The Rev. William J. Gohl

Bishop, Delaware-Maryland Synod

The Rev. James W. Gonia           

Bishop, Rocky Mountain Synod

The Rev. Erik K. Gronberg           

Bishop, Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod

The Rev. Constanze Hagmaier   

Bishop, South Dakota Synod

The Rev. Lorna H. Halaas            

Bishop, Western Iowa Synod

The Rev. Regina M. Hassanally

Bishop, Southeastern Minnesota Synod

The Rev. James E. Hazelwood    

Bishop, New England Synod

The Rev. Mark W. Holmerud

Bishop, Sierra Pacific Synod

The Rev. Robert F. Humphrey    

Bishop, Virginia Synod

The Rev. Deborah K. Hutterer    

Bishop, Grand Canyon Synod

The Rev. Richard E. Jaech

Bishop, Southwestern Washington Synod

The Rev. Laurie A. Jungling         

Bishop, Montana Synod

The Rev. Donald P. Kreiss           

Bishop, Southeast Michigan Synod

The Rev. Wilma S. Kucharek       

Bishop, Slovak Zion Synod

The Rev. Kristen E. Kuempel       

Bishop Northwest Intermountain Synod

The Rev. Kurt F. Kusserow          

Bishop, Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod

The Rev. Laurie A. Larson Caesar             

Bishop, Oregon Synod

The Rev. Michael L. Lozano        

Bishop, Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod

The Rev. Patricia J. Lull  

Bishop, Saint Paul Area Synod

The Rev. Brian D. Maas 

Bishop, Nebraska Synod

The Rev. John S. Macholz           

Bishop, Upstate New York Synod

The Rev. Gerald L. Mansholt      

Bishop, East-Central Synod of Wisconsin

The Rev. Idalia Negron-Caamano            

Bishop, Caribbean Synod

The Rev. Leila M. Ortiz  

Bishop, Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod

The Rev. Michael L. Rhyne          

Bishop, Allegheny Synod

The Rev. Michael W. Rinehart    

Bishop, Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod

The Rev. Peter Rogness 

Interim Bishop, South-Central Synod of Wisconsin

The Rev. S. John Roth    

Bishop, Central/Southern Illinois Synod

The Rev. Craig A. Satterlee         

Bishop, North/West Lower Michigan Synod

The Rev. Laurie Skow-Anderson 

Bishop, Northwest Synod of Wisconsin

The Rev. Timothy M. Smith        

Bishop, North Carolina Synod

The Rev. Kevin L. Strickland        

Bishop, Southeastern Synod

The Rev. Pedro M. Suarez           

Bishop, Florida-Bahamas Synod

The Rev. Ann M. Svennungsen   

Bishop, Minneapolis Area Synod

The Rev. Andrew A. Taylor         

Bishop, Pacifica Synod

The Rev. William T. Tesch           

Bishop, Northwestern Minnesota Synod

The Rev. Steven L. Ullestad        

Bishop, Northeastern Iowa Synod

The Rev. Shelley R. Wickstrom

Bishop, Alaska Synod

The Rev. Lawrence R. Wohlrabe

Interim Bishop, Eastern North Dakota Synod

The Rev. Herman R. Yoos           

Bishop, South Carolina Synod

The Rev. Samuel R. Zeiser           

Bishop, Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod

The Rev. David Zellmer 

Interim Bishop, Western North Dakota Synod


The Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin, who was elected in 2013 as the fourth bishop of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and elected to a second term in 2019, will be leaving the bishopric as of July 31, 2020 and, beginning August 1, will serve United Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia, PA as its next president. Bishop Erwin has served on ULS’s board of trustees for two years, and succeeds interim president Rev. Dr. Angela Zimmann, who will return to her position as Vice President of Institutional Advancement.

“I warmly welcome Bishop Erwin to the ULS community, and look forward to serving in ministry together” stated Rev. Dr. Angela Zimmann. “With Bishop Erwin’s leadership, by the grace of God, United Lutheran Seminary is well-positioned and re-energized for moving forward into a faithful future.”
“I am so very grateful that the Holy Spirit has brought us to this moment,” said Rev. Dr. Peter Boehringer, chair of the ULS Board of Trustees. “With Bishop Erwin’s deep commitment to Luther’s theology of the cross, and his long history of working for justice, I believe he will lead the way in lifting up before our students and our church a greater sense of how the Gospel of Jesus Christ empowers us to be servant leaders in the world. Our society, indeed, our world is facing incredibly challenging issues. I have no doubt that he will inspire and help shape a new generation of seminarians to lead the church in bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to bear on those challenges.”
Guy Erwin was the ELCA’s first gay, partnered bishop and the first openly gay male to serve in that office in the churches of the Lutheran World Federation. Born on the Osage reservation in Oklahoma, he is the first Native American bishop in the ELCA. In the ELCA Conference of Bishops, he has served on the Executive Committee and as Region 2 liaison bishop to the ELCA Church Council, and as chair of the bishops’ Theological and Ethical Concerns Committee. From 2000 until his election as synod bishop in 2013, Dr. Erwin held the Gerhard and Olga J. Belgum Chair in Lutheran Confessional Theology at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. At Cal Lutheran he taught in the Religion and History departments, served as Faculty Chair for two years, and directed the university’s Segerhammar Center for Faith and Culture.
“Though I am sad to leave my work as bishop, which I have dearly loved,” Dr. Erwin said, “as a life-long educator I rejoice in the chance to work with ULS’s remarkable faculty in carrying out the seminary’s mission to prepare its students for public ministry and principled engagement in the world. As a historian, I honor what our two predecessor seminaries have meant to the church, and the legacy with which we have been entrusted. At the same time, we stand on the threshold of tremendous changes in theological education, in the life of the church, and in our society, and I embrace the opportunity that this provides for ULS to be a leader in new ways.”
During the Reformation anniversary year in 2017, Bishop Erwin was in high demand as a teacher and speaker and gave 30 lectures and presentations in the United States and Germany in addition to his normal duties as bishop. Through the Lutheran World Federation and his work with the Faith & Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, Bishop Erwin maintains an extensive set of international connections, particularly in Germany and the Nordic countries.
Bishop Erwin holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a doctorate from Yale University. He also received a Fulbright grant for two years of study at the University of Tübingen in Germany, and an IREX grant for a year at the University of Leipzig. His doctoral dissertation was on the late medieval roots of Luther’s theology of the cross, and his subsequent scholarly work has focused on the religious culture of Lutheranism, particularly its worship and piety, with a special interest in the visual arts and architecture. In 2000, after teaching church history and historical theology at the Yale Divinity School for six years, Bishop Erwin moved to Southern California with his husband, Robert T. Flynn, a West Virginia native and alumnus of Yale Divinity School, who has worked in scholarly publishing at Yale University Press, Columbia University Press, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles as well as serving two terms on the Board of Trustees of 1517 Media, the publishing house of the ELCA.
Formed in 2017 by joining the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, founded in 1826 and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, founded in 1864, United Lutheran Seminary (uls.edu) has two physical campuses and a distance learning community, enrolling 350 students and offering seven graduate degree programs, four certificate programs and lifelong learning opportunities.