My first Synod Assembly is in the books! Yay! I have to admit that it was quite similar to the Annual Conferences that I have been attending nearly my whole life with the United Methodists: I greeted friends I hadn’t seen in a year (yes! I have LOTS of Lutheran friends – Jill was sooo surprised!), we passed resolutions about how we are to live in our world (about climate change, immigration, Synod budget etc.), heard how our Oregon Synod is doing great things through Camp Lutherwood, parachurch organizations and ministries, disaster preparedness, and listened to how we are connected to the greater ELCA connection – through Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services and through global and domestic missions. Change the words “Lutheran” and “ELCA” to “United Methodist” and “UMC” and you have an Annual Conference meeting in the Oregon-Idaho geographic region, save one big difference: At the Oregon Synod Assembly, we elected a new Bishop.
Bishop Dave Braauer-Rieke handled the whole week with enormous grace, as he was hoping to continue as our Oregon Synod Bishop. As an outsider experiencing my first Bishop election and ELCA Synod Assembly I was in awe of the fact that a Bishop had done such a great job in creating a culture shift within the synod that the people being raised up for Bishop alongside him were exactly people who he had nurtured in their own ministry. We lift up Bishop Dave Brauer-Rieke and his spouse Gretchen as they transition into what God calls them to next.
Rev. Laurie Larson Caesar is now the Bishop-Elect of the Oregon Synod of the ELCA. In a 5th ballot she won by a simple majority vote. Laurie currently serves Spirit of Grace Lutheran Church in Beaverton, Oregon. She holds her MDiv from Harvard Divinity and was ordained on August 25, 1996. She is an advocate for ecumenical work and collaborative work with the Roman Catholic church. She sees the primary challenge of the Oregon Synod to be asking ourselves one question: “Will we as Lutherans seek to risk, grow, and change in order to be part of what the Spirit is doing?” The synod office staff will work to transition her into the role of Bishop in the next several months.
I was also inspired by the keynote address by Krishanti Vignarajah – President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services. Recounting the story of the gospels that remind us of the story of Jesus as a migrant, in need of welcome and reception, she reminded us that Jesus identifies with every wanderer, every displaced person, every refugee, asylum seeker and migrant, when he tells the crowd, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35). For 80 years, Lutherans in the United States have joined together to respond to God’s call to love the neighbor who comes to us as stranger and sojourner. She told her own story of her family migrating from Sri Lanka and how the attitude of the people who welcomed her family were so meaningful and inform her every day in her work at LIRS. She reminded us that during this critical and unsettling time for migrants and refugees, we must live boldly into our Lutheran faith tradition and our legacy of courageous and compassionate welcome for those who seek refuge in our communities.
I continue to learn so much and appreciate being your pastor!
~ Pastor Laura
Register now for VBS To Mars and Beyond! You can sign up kids ages 4 to 12 here!
Join us every other Thursday beginning June 6th throughout the summer at 5pm at the Silverton United Methodist Parsonage for food, fellowship, and worship! Main dish and dessert are provided, please bring a side dish to share!
Serving in June:
Jill Lounsbury – Lay Leader & Altar Guild
Nev Johansen – Usher