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Synod Staff Travels in Nevada!

From August 1-4, 2021 Bishop Megan and Catherine Slabaugh visited 7 congregations throughout the Nevada region of our Synod. Here's a look into their week!

Sunday, August 1st

The morning began with the Installation of Pr. Shaun O'Reilly at Faith Lutheran Church in Reno, Nevada! Pr. O'Reilly has been serving Faith Lutheran for the past year after being Ordained in a COVID style service, but had postponed his Installation service until we could gather in-person. The service welcomed congregants from 3 local congregations, Faith Lutheran, Lord of Mercy, and Good Shepherd, as they all played an important role in Pr. O'Reilly's faith formation and Pastoral training. Pr. Carl Wilfrid preached a sermon on the marriage of Faith Lutheran and Pr. O'Reilly, filling the sanctuary with laughter and joy during this heart-warming service. After the service, the congregation held a mini ceremony to hang Pr. O'Reilly's picture in the narthex and a light reception complete with a cake! Faith Lutheran feels blessed by Pr. O'Reilly's presence and look forward to him bringing his experience in children and youth ministry to this congregation.

In the afternoon, the Bishop and Slabaugh spent time with Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Reno, NV, led by Pastor Kathy Morris. Here, they learned about the many ministries Holy Cross is involved in and the passionate ways they continually serve the community. From an intergenerational quilting, sewing and knitting group, to a community garden that helps feed the senior living facility next door and even a live nativity during the Christmas season for the community to enjoy. This congregation opens their doors to two diverse worshipping communities who use their space weekly to gather and play an active role in the Shared Harvest Food Pantry, a ministry led by 6 local Lutheran Churches to feed their community. Holy Cross has always been a community that wanted to give and give, but on this day they spent time exploring ways to diversify their income with Bishop Rohrer. Giving to the community brings the congregation so much joy that they are eager to create opportunities for others to give and feel that same joy.

The evening concluded with a visit to Lord of Mercy Lutheran Church in Sparks, NV, led by Pastor Sarah Johnson. The first Reconciling in Christ Congregation in Nevada, this vibrant community opened their new building doors just 3 years prior and are actively looking for ways to incorporate the new and old into their space. They've included wood from their original building into the finish of their new sound booth, original rainbow-colored stained glass to their sanctuary and even a repurposed slot machine bowl for their baptismal font. Their land is quite large and this fall, the congregation will form a discernment team to ponder how to use the other half of their land in new and innovative ways. Two unique projects stood out during their visit with Lord of Mercy; a gentleman from the congregation embroidered The Last Supper onto a tapestry to hang on the altar and another gentleman began a Grumpy Bear ministry, placing teddy bears around the church for congregants to take when needing extra comfort in their life.

Monday, August 2nd

Bishop Rohrer and Slabaugh journey to Elko, NV for the Installation service of Pr. Julie Vice at Faith Lutheran Church! A 300 mile drive from Reno, Faith Lutheran in Elko is our furthest East congregation in the Synod and the only ELCA congregation between Salt Lake City and Reno. The congregation began meeting in St. Paul's Episcopal Church renting space and are now "yolked" communities as they share Pr. Vice. The service welcomed members from Faith Lutheran and St. Paul's Episcopal as they celebrated and installed Pr. Vice, an Elko native, who began serving both congregations in January of 2021. The two congregations are eager to host joint events in the Elko community, and just this past Sunday gathered for an outdoor Worship Service and BBQ together! The town of Elko, NV is rapidly growing with the influx of gold miners to the town, beginning in the 1970/80s, and is a haven of character and community amidst the Eastern Nevada landscape.

Tuesday, August 3rd

The morning began with a visit to Carson City, NV where Bishop Rohrer and Slabaugh visited St. Paul's Lutheran Family with Pr. Chad Adamik. A deep-seeded congregation to the Carson City community, St. Paul's serves as a home to many local groups. They host a local youth orchestra weekly, provide outreach to the local homeless population and even welcomed Goats to their property just a few weeks back! St. Paul's has served as a home for generations and has a deep desire to connect with the most vulnerable communities in the city. Sitting on a corner across from the local High School and neighbors to many other faith organizations, St. Paul's is involved in a local Interfaith Good Friday Service with nearby congregations that gathers the individuals from diverse faith backgrounds. Pr. Adamik and the congregation's Administrative Assistant are also active members with LEAN, the Lutheran Engagement and Advocacy in Nevada group, who are "committed to peace, justice, dignity, reconciliation, and empowerment for all people."

That afternoon, Bishop Rohrer and Slabaugh traveled to Fernley, NV, about 60 miles outside of Reno, to visit with Gift of Grace Lutheran Church. Gift of Grace has a unique story, a small congregation in the heart of Fernley, primarily led by Lay Leaders with supply Pastor Mary Lou Petitjean. This congregation holds strong connections to their community, many serve weekly at the local food bank, work with the fire department to support the local schools and continue to give back a portion of their fundraising to the community, despite their own financial worries. Gift of Grace is eager to connect with other ELCA congregations nearby and afar, learning from others, sharing their deep wisdom and connecting their young families with others.

Wednesday, August 4th

The final day in Nevada concluded with a visit to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in the heart of Reno, led by Pr. Scott Trevithick. Centrally located, Good Shepherd is a staple to the Nevada community and embodies their commitment to being a Reconciling in Christ congregation. As a member of staff shared with us after first meeting the congregation at the Reno Pride Parade, "This church has been the model of what a Reconciling church should look like. Not only is it a welcoming congregation, it's also an accepting congregation," shared Derek Nance. Good Shepherd recently finished a Building Campaign where they remodeled their sanctuary and classrooms to be ADA accessible, include a columbarium and include state of the art equipment to livestream their services. They are continually learning new ways to adapt to COVID and technological needs and are eager to share what they've learned through this season with other congregations!

The trip ended with a long journey home and a COVID test as they feel that wellness and care for our community is one of the best ways to showcase God’s love. Thank you to all for your prayers as Bishop Rohrer and Slabaugh traveled, and a special thank you to all 7 congregations for their hospitality and warm welcome. See you soon, Nevada!

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