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Bishop’s Report to the Synod Council

February 4, 2022

The following is a summary of the activities of the Bishop and Synod Staff since December 11th. This report uses the list of responsibilities outlined in the Synod’s Constitution to organize the many tasks of the Synod. While the Bishop has oversight over these tasks, the work detailed below is only possible because of the faithful work of the Synod staff, council members, committee members and volunteers. We are grateful for the mission support of congregations throughout the Synod and churchwide. This work would not be possible without their generosity.

Serve as the Synod’s Pastor

Preach, Teach and Administer the Sacraments

· I have visited 76 congregations and mission partners, driving over 15,000 miles since my election.

· Since our last meeting, I have hosted the following livestream conversations:

Synod Resource Center

· The Belfry has agreed to house the Synod Resource Center and the process is underway to hire a Synod Resource Center Assistant. Catherine is scheduling the packing and moving of books from Hope Lutheran in Fresno. We extend thanks to the faithful folk at Hope Lutheran for hosting the Resource Center.

Primary Responsibility for the Ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Synod

· We have begun a Bishop’s Convocation for rostered leaders that will provide 16 hours of free continuing education hours for rostered leaders. Later this year we hope to provide a convocation for lay leaders as well.

o Day 1 - February 2: The often-unknown details of being credentialed in the ELCA w/ Rev. Manda (41 participants joined the training)

o Day 2 - February 9: Caring for victims of misconduct w/ Barbara Keller, Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline w/ Bishop Megan, Being a Mandated Reporter w/ Bishop Megan

o Day 3 - February 16: Legal advice and updates for congregations w/ Mark Watson Esq. (the attorney for the SPS), Clergy tax & Congregational Finance updates w/ Rev. Sharon Amundson (synod treasurer and CPA), Creative Fundraising w/ Bishop Megan

o Day 4 - February 23: Starting your Journey to Intercultural Competency w/ Rev. Tita et al.

Ordination and Calls

· The ordination of Tayler Hagbo was held on the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th) at the Lutheran Church of Arcata

Exercise Leadership in the Mission of this Church

Interpret and Advocate Theology of the ELCA-

· 1517 Media and Broadleaf Books have sent free materials and coordinating conversations with authors to partner on the Bishop’s Book club, and for our Just Lutheran conversations about diversity. Catherine is working with this ELCA publishing companies to select books and authors that meet the Synod’s priorities.

Lead in Fostering Support For and Commitment to the Mission of This Church Within the Synod

· Sierra Pacific Outdoors, a capital campaign that seeks to raise $1 million dollars for Mr. Cross Property repairs, $1 million for a new retreat center in Nevada and $1 million to for Synodically owned properties. See the info at the end of this report to learn more.

· I am currently taking the Executive Fundraising Certificate course from the Lily School of Philanthropy.

Partnership With Full Communion, Ecumenical and Interreligious Partners and Related Organizations:

o In celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I participated in a panel discussion with Presbyterian, Episcopalian and Catholic judicatory leaders and bishops.

o I met with President David Vasquez Levy of the Pacific School of Religion to talk about efforts to provide innovative training opportunities for BIPOC and LGBTQ candidates for ministry.

Coordinate the Use of the Resources Available to this Synod as it Seeks to Promote the Health of the Church and Witness in Areas Served by this Synod

· I met with Diana and Pastor Sharon on a vision for the budget that includes an update to the 2022-2023 budget and a preliminary 2023-2024 budget for the Synod.

· We continue to work on efforts to modernize our income and expense process.

· About half of our mission support checks continue to be sent to the wrong address, so we continue to education and communicate the address change.

Advise and Counsel the Synod’s Institutions and Organizations

· I visited Mt. Cross with my family and we helped fix up one of the properties during the week of Christmas and Lunar New Year. I also met with Adam and the board president to talk about Sierra Pacific Outdoors, our relationship with the LCMS church and other matters.

Practice Leadership in Strengthening the Unity of the Church

Resolving Controversies and Overseeing Discipline-

· Confidential matters are disclosed in Executive Session

· I held disclosure meetings for rostered leaders in each conference.

Participate in the Conference of Bishops & Consult Regularly with Other Bishops

· I met with all the Latinx bishops.

· I participated in several formal and informal Conference of Bishop Meetings.

· I had informal consultations with Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.

· I meet regularly with the bishops of Region 2.

Cultivate Relationships with Christian Judicatory Leaders Within the Territory

· Pastor Manda and I met with President Lange of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). We began to get to know each other and discussed joint LCMS/ELCA congregations and Mt. Cross.

Oversee and Administer the Work of the Synod

Ensure the Following of the Constitution and Bylaws of the Synod and Churchwide are Being Followed

· We continue to review policies that need updates. Due to our staffing shortage, we are waiting until the next council meeting to bring the next round of recommended policy changes.

Coordinate the Work of Synod Staff-

· Synod staff have adjusted their workloads to take on the duties of Pastor Hazel, while she is on leave. This has left the staff stretched very thin.

· Catherine, Pastor Manda and Diana are leading the hiring process for the open positions. February 1st was the date to review applicants. The interview and screening process will begin mid-February.

Committees and Organizational Units-

· I met with the deans, each conference, the Synod Assembly planning team, the theologians in residence and the Region 2 Bishops first call consultation.

Leadership- Led by Pr. Manda Truchinski

· Transfers to Other Synods:

· Pastor Pamela Griffith Pond

Maintenance of the Roster of Congregations and Their Officers: Work continues to get our new database updated with current information.

Archive Documents: Pastor Tita collected the archival documents from Hilmar. The items still need to be reviewed, digitized and a minimal amount of records sent to the regional archive.

Appoint a Statistician: I appoint Lance Kelly as the Synod statistician.

Attached information about Sierra Pacific Outdoors:

A Vision for Diverse Leaders, Diverse Income and Evangelism

The Sierra Pacific Outdoors is an effort to support diverse leadership, diversify congregational income and evangelize throughout the Sierra Pacific Synod. This major capital campaign seeks to raise $1 million dollars for Mt Cross, $1 million dollars for a new ecologically focused retreat center in Nevada and $1 million dollars for Synodically owned properties. You can support this important project by donating here or by mailing a check to Sierra Pacific Synod, 301 Santa Lucia Ave, Millbrae, CA 94030. Donations of all sizes are appreciated.

Supporting Diverse Leadership:

For decades Lutherans have depended on summer camps and schools to support youth and young adults and help them develop gifts for church leadership. Over time, deferred maintenance has made these spaces less and less desirable to youth and families. The full diversity of our Synod does not have access to camp and the educational opportunities needed for pastors and deacons to obtain the minimal qualifications needed to serve. It is our vision to create camps, retreat centers and multicultural centers in both urban and rural settings that support diverse leadership throughout our Synod.

Supporting Diverse Congregational Economies:

The faithful economy of our Synod requires individuals to raise the funds needed for their pastoral leadership (pastors and deacons) and the costs associated with their buildings. Sierra Pacific Outdoors will seek to model new ways of diversifying congregational income with a goal of creating self-sustaining faith communities. It is our vision to create self-sustaining faith communities in buildings that are used for worship, community centers and social entrepreneurial evangelism.

Holy Do-Overs and Evangelism:

As congregations move towards holy closure, the Sierra Pacific Synod helps communities discern how they would like to say goodbye and how they would like to distribute their assets. When congregations are interested in supporting a new worshipping community with their building or assets, the Synod helps that congregation prepare for what we like to call a holy do-over. After the congregation closes the Synod leads a 6 month exploration into the opportunities for planting a new worshiping community. It is our vision to support holy do-overs in as many closing congregations as possible.

In the short term, Sierra Pacific Outdoors will work with properties owned by the Synod, retreat centers and camps. We plan to share what we learn in hopes of inspiring others to try similar holy experiments. In the future, we hope to generate income that can be used to support future efforts with congregations, new ministries and mission partners.

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