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A New Season for the Synod Resource Center

A beloved ministry of the Sierra Pacific Synod that dates back to before the Synod was formed, the Synod Resource Center has served Pastors, Seminarians, Youth Leaders, and curious-minded congregants for decades.

Publications feature Luther’s early work, course material for your next Vacation Bible School, and everything in between - the Synod Resource Center truly has it all.

“It all began in 1984 as the Parish Education Resource Center (PERC). The Center was located at Hope Lutheran Church, Fresno, with an initial grant of $500. Joan Peery served as the Coordinator of the Center…In 1988, with the formation of the Sierra Pacific Synod, its Education Committee drew up a proposal for a Synod Resource Center. The proposal was accepted and the official beginning date of the Sierra Pacific Resource Center was September 1, 1989,” shared long-time Synod Resource Center volunteer Margie Back.

A ministry that has physically lived in the Central Valley of California, but served folk across the Synod, has undergone a transformation in the past couple of months.

As the new Synod Staff began their work this past July, Bishop Megan took a special interest in the Synod Resource Center and the gift of a library of resources that lived within the Synod. Communications and Connections Coordinator Catherine Slabaugh began meeting regularly with long-time Synod Resource Center volunteers to learn about and discern where the Synod Resource Center was headed.

With the inclusion of zoom, influx in online resources and geographic reach of the Synod, a new strategic plan was drafted and presented to the Sierra Pacific Synod Council. This new strategic plan leans into the ever-changing church climate to incorporate more digital resources and conversations, as well as focus on diversifying the audience highlighted and connected with through the Resource Center.

In the months the strategic plan was being drafted, Bishop Rohrer visited and met with new Campus Ministry Chaplain Portia Hopkins of The Belfry at the University of California, Davis. Amongst other things, Rev. Portia shared that The Belfry and its young adults were very interested in having hard-copy resources available, as their building had become a hang-out space for many theologically curious students.

Thus, a conversation around re-locating the Synod Resource Center to The Belfry Campus Ministry began. This would ensure that daily use of the Resources are happening and it would greatly support a Mission Partner in our synod, while aligning with our Strategic Plan of diversifying the Center's audience.

The gifting of the hard copies of the Resource Center to the Belfry and this new collaboration between the Synod and the Belfry has already shown to be a tremendous gift to the community. In the beginning of January, the Belfry board and students spent a few days painting, purchasing bookshelves, and rearranging the space to prepare for the Center's arrival. Since then, the young adults of the Belfry have taken great pride in this newly renovated space and books are being picked off the shelves daily. Rev. Portia's background as a College English Professor for 20+ years gives assurance that the physical elements of the Resource Center are being overseen by someone with a high level of appreciation, knowledge, and care.

While this partnership with The Belfry has already proven to be fruitful, this is only the beginning of the implementation of the Synod Resource Center’s new Strategic Plan. Next steps include bringing a Synod Resource Center Assistant onboard to share the bounty of this library with folk across our Synod.

The Synod Resource Center is also eager to live into this technological era and build-up a database of digital resources, expert individuals, and online trainings for people across our Synod.

In this time of transition, we thank you for your patience and understanding as we live into this new Strategic Plan. We’ve found small ways to build up the Synod Resource Center recently, one of which being the Bishop’s Book Club! Each month, Bishop Megan sits down with an Author to discuss their newest publication. We’ve interviewed authors who published books about First Responder Care and Trauma, stories of Young Black Women, Postcolonial Theology, Spiritual Self Care, and so much more. We thank our friends at 1517 Media and Broadleaf Book Publication for partnering with us to help launch the Bishop’s Book Club. They’ve graciously gifted us copies of each book and we are excited to share that this fall, the Bishop’s Book Club books will be available for check-out in the Synod Resource Center.

During this time of transition with the Synod Resource Center, we thank all who have been a part of the dreaming, planning, moving and unpacking.

Thank you to Margie Back and Perry Gray-Reneberg who volunteered countless hours to maintain the Synod Resource Center throughout the pandemic and share it’s bounty with others.

Thank you to the Hope Lutheran Church in Fresno, CA community for graciously hosting the Synod Resource Center over the years. Their hospitality is unparalleled!

Thank you to the small group of volunteers, led by Kristina Garabedian, who donated a Saturday afternoon in April to pack boxes, clean shelves, and load the U-Haul for the big move.

Thank you to Rev. Sharon Amundson for graciously driving the U-Haul from Fresno to Davis, and assisting in unpacking the books.

And finally, a tremendous thank you to Rev. Portia Hopkins, the College Students of UC Davis, and The Belfry Board for welcoming the Synod Resource Center with open arms and providing the highest level of care and attention to the resources.

We are eager to continue the ministry of the Synod Resource Center and continue to share resources just as the Center did 40 years ago.

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