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A Thank You from Bishop Claire S. Burkat

2023 Sierra Pacific Assembly

"Broken Yet Whole"

"Finally, siblings, rejoice. Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”

(2 Corinthians 13:11)

Our Synod Assembly theme, chosen by the assembly planning team last year when this synod was conflicted and in deep distress, was shared in light of a letter St. Paul wrote to the troubled people assembled at the church in Corinth almost 2000 years ago.

Didn't the Holy Spirit show up powerfully at our Assembly?

How could we have imagined when this theme was chosen, that St. Paul's blessing for the Corinthian church was to freely flow through all three days of our Assembly?

+ Did we not rejoice, especially as we worshipped, and joyfully danced at the banquet Saturday night?

+ Did we not witness the full restoration of a community of believers to the roster, after sharing our regrets and apologies for hurting them and their pastor?

+ Did we not sincerely encourage one another as we prayed and deliberated on the mission of God on our synod territory?

+ Did we not experience being of one mind after reflecting, listening, discussing, voting, and spiritually discerning which pastor would be raised up as our bishop?

+ And didn't the people of God from every conference of our synod eat, drink, worship, and live together in the peace of Christian community for three days?

This is my after-Assembly letter of gratitude to the people of the Sierra Pacific Synod, with hope in my heart, mind, and spirit for continuous, faithful, and courageous ministry following the future direction and journey on which the Spirit of our Living God leads you all, and all who will join you.

I will be taking my own leave soon, as Bishop-elect Pastor Jeff R. Johnson begins his six-year term as Bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod, ELCA.

For this reason I thank and bless all the people who worked to make this Assembly the life-giving, spirit-encouraging, peace-making, and reconciling gathering we experienced together.

With and in Christ,

Claire S. Burkat, Interim Bishop

Sierra Pacific Synod ELCA

Many thanks to all who contributed before, during, and after the 2023 Assembly from a grateful synod.

Officers and Assembly Leaders/Speakers

  • Vice President Simon Wong, Secretary Jeffrey Pennington, Treasurer Pastor Sharon Amundson

  • Bishop Election Chair, Deacon Sue Rothmeyer, Secretary of the ELCA

  • Parliamentarian, Maurice Henderson

  • Keynote Presenter, Dr. Yohana Junker, Assistant Professor of Art, Religion, and Culture at Claremont School of Theology

  • Closing Worship Preacher, Dr. Adam Braun, Assistant Professor in New Testament and Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary of California Lutheran University

Primary Assembly and Bishop Election Teams

Bishop Election Team co-chairs Alan Gaston and The Rev. Rustin Comer for almost a year coordinating the entire process for electing our next bishop, including conference gatherings, and discernment processes for pre-nominees.

Assembly Planning Team, co-chairs Rev. Charlane Lines, Rev. Courtney Geibert, and Diane Niggli, synod event coordinator, ably managed all the many details, made the arrangements, and navigated the issues in putting together an assembly.

Synod Staff:

Rev. Manda Truchinski, Rev. Ron Valadez, Deacon jj Godwin, Rev. Dawn Roginski, Melanie Gordon, Mandi Slagle, Carolyn Hanrahan, Debbie Cook, and Lance Kelly.

Assembly Teams:

Worship: The Rev. Bea Chun, The Rev. Clare McElaney, The Rev. Jose Luis La Torre-Cuadros, and The Rev. Kendrah Fredricksen, and more than 50 people who assisted with worship over three days.

Music: Luke Nicolay, Genie Shermak, The Rev. Taylor Hagbo, and Jonathan Claasen

Communication and Technical Support: Tom Hoegel and the Big Dog Sound Team, Mandi Slagle and Mike Basil.

Sacred Spaces: The Rev. Julie Kelly, Samantha LaDue, Makayla Holeman and the many volunteers who prepared our assembly space for worship and discernment this weekend.

Rev. Sara Schultz who translated our worship bulletins, and our interpreters Pastor Susan Birkelo and Lucy Miranda.

Banquet: Andrea Puck for organizing the evening and creating kintsugi crosses, Master of Ceremonies The Rev. Paul Larson, and The San Francisco Bay Jazz Ensemble for getting us dancing!

Workshops, Mission Partners, Registration, Volunteers, and Hospitality: The Rev. Gabi Schroeder for organizing the workshops, The Rev. Josh Serrano for facilitating the mission partners’ presentations, Marisa Lee for being our registration superhero, Jean Hope for organizing our volunteers and Nora Oluoch for offering hospitality.

Business Session

The Rev. Manda Truchinski, business session producer, who rewrote our agenda many times over.

The Rev. Jodi Golden-Lund bishop "whisperer" to keep our bishop on track.

Nominating Team, chair The Rev. Kathy Morris

Election Team, chair The Rev. Stephanie Johnson

Resolution Team, The Rev. Dr. John Valentine and Katie Swartz

Credentials Team, Randy Presuhn

Finance Team, led by The Rev. Sharon Amundson, and chair Scott Taylor


The Rev. Karen Ann Campbell and the Rev. Brent Hoy-Bianchi

Visitors and Sierra Pacific Synod Supporters: From the Churchwide offices, we welcomed Executive for Worship Deacon John Weit, and Executive for Synod Relations, Deacon Maryann Schwabe.

Bishops Regions 1 and 2

Bishop Deborah Hutterer from the Grand Canyon Synod

Bishop Jim Gonia from Rocky Mountain Synod

Bishop Brenda Bos from Southwest California Synod *in spirit

Bishop Dave Nagler from Pacifica Synod

Bishop Richard Jaech, Southwestern Washington Synod

Synod Council:

Simon Wong, Vice President

Jeff Pennington, Secretary

Rev. Sharon Amundson, Treasurer

Makayla Holeman, Youth Representative

Autumn Scherf, Young Adult Representative

Christine Sinnott, At-Large Representative

Rev. Eduardo Trejo Soto, At-Large Representative, Primary Language other than English

Rev. Kathy Morris, At-Large Representative

Kezia Darla, At-Large Representative, Person of Color

Sandra Hamilton Slane, Conference 1 Representative

Carl Brodt, Conference 2 Representative

Rev. Kirsten Moore, Conference 3 Representative

Linda Babcock, Conference 4 Representative

John Brett, Conference 5 Representative

Rev. Clark Brown, Conference 6 Representative

Donna Nunes, Conference 7 Representative & Synod Assembly Planning Team Council Liaison

Luke Price, Conference 8 Representative

Rev. Paul Clark, Conference 9 Representative


Rev. Ben Colahan, Redwood Mountain Conference 1

Rev. Dave Miller, Bridges Conference 2

Rev. Dr. Gabriele Schroeder, Capitol Valley Conference 3

Rev. Charlane Lines, Sierra Nevada Foothills Conference 4

Rev. John Kuehner, San Francisco Peninsula Conference 5

Rev. Cristina Beauchemin, El Camino Real Conference 6

Rev. Dr. John Valentine, Mt. Diablo Conference 7

Rev. Mark Price, Sierra Central Valley Conference 8

Rev. Jodi Golden-Lund, Central San Joaquin Conference 9

Rev. Cindy Beck, Interim Ministry

The Bishop pre-nominees, trusting God and loving Christ's Church so much they allowed their names to go forward in faith: Rev. Sharon Amundson, Rev. Cindy Beck, Rev. Clark Brown, Katy Grindberg, Rev. Jeff Johnson, Rev. Lori Keyser-Boswell, Rev. Amy Kienzle, Rev. John Kuehner, Rev. Dr. Dawn Roginski, and Rev. Dr. John Valentine.

The Synod Council pre-nominees, using their voices to support our shared work together: Bertha Castro, Traci Angel, Dr. Sigrid Horton, Rashelle Rew, and Makayla Holeman. Blessings to our new synod council members Bertha Castro and Makayla Holeman.

And, of course, congratulations, blessings, encouragement, and support to our bishop-elect, the Reverend Jeff R. Johnson, as he takes office November 1.

His installation date will be Saturday, December 9, 2023. Save the date! The location and time will be announced soon.

As you can see- many people gave their time and talents to make our three-day Synod Assembly a memorable and inspiring experience – to the glory of God and in great love for Jesus Christ and God's Church.

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Clayton Brent Hoy-Bianchi
Clayton Brent Hoy-Bianchi
21 de set. de 2023

Thank you Bishop Claire for all that you have done for our Synod. We are better having had you as our Interim Bishop. Blessings be upon as you return home!

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