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Past issues: 21:05 A Return?; 21:04 A Season of Penance; 21:03 Lenten Reflection; 21:02 The Racist Lawyer; 20:12 Look to Fore; 20:10 Where are the Christians?; 20:09 Remember to Laugh; 20:08 The Bonding, the Blessing; 20:07 A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven; 20:06 We are the Church; 20:05 Let's Endure; 20:04 A Future with Hope; 20:03 The Gift of Wonder; 19:11 Love Justice; 19:09 Life as a Story; 19:08 How to Pray; 19:06 The Love of God; 19:05 The Work of Healing; 19:04 We Belong to Each Other; 19:03 Faith as a Wellspring; 19:02 What To Do About God; 19:01 The Mantra of Advent; 18:12 Unstuffing the Turkey; 18:11 Where To Next; 18:09 Is Your Ego in the Way; 18:07 Subject to Authority; 18:06 Unexpected Voices; 18:05 The Tie That Binds; 18:04 Meeting Up; 18:03 Believing or Trusting; 18:02 Abiding in Love; 18:01 A Moment in Time; 17:12 A New You; 17:10 An Exhortation; 17:09, 17:08; 17:05; 17:04; 17:03; 17:02; 17:01; 16:12; 16:11;16:10; 16:09; 16:08; 16:06; 16:05; 16:04; 16:03; 16:02; 16:01; 15:12; 15:11; 15:10; 15:09; 15:08; 15:06 15:05; 15:03; 15:02; 15:01; 14:10; 14:09; 14:08; 14:07; 14:05; 14:04; 14:02; 14:01
CHICAGO — The Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer (they/their), San Francisco, Calif., was elected May 8 to serve a six-year term as bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Rohrer is the first transgender bishop in the ELCA. The election took place during an online synod assembly.
Rohrer was elected on the fifth ballot, with 209 votes. The Rev. Jeff R. Johnson, pastor of University Lutheran Chapel of Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., received 207 votes.
The bishop-elect has served as pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in San Francisco since 2014 and as community chaplain coordinator for the San Francisco Police Department since 2018. They served as executive director of the Welcome Ministry in San Francisco from 2002 to 2014, assistant night minister for the San Francisco Night Ministry from 2013 to 2018 and community garden coordinator at Project Homeless Connect from 2010 to 2012. Rohrer also served as pastor of a multiparish call serving the homeless and hungry at Welcome Ministry from 2006 to 2014.
Rohrer received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Augustana University in Sioux Fall, S.D., in 2001, a Master of Divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley in 2005, and a Doctor of Ministry degree in 2017. Rohrer is currently a doctoral candidate in transformative studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. Augustana is one of 26 ELCA colleges and universities.
Rohrer's installation is scheduled for Sept. 11 at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Walnut Creek, Calif.
The Rev. Mark W. Holmerud has served as bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod since 2008 and will retire June 30.
Information about the Sierra Pacific Synod is available at spselca.org/.
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Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2 NRSV).
Since the global pandemic was declared in March 2020, many of us have endured extended emotional and psychological anguish. That experience may be dramatically worsened by the ugly realities of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia or poverty. Our anguish has taken the form of sadness in isolation, anxiety in uncertainty, grief over loss, stress over economic challenges and worry over events beyond our control — including the tremendous impact of the crisis on our children. This pandemic threatens our mental health just as much as our physical health. For millions of us adults living in the United States, receiving the vaccine and the hope it brings has alleviated our unease, sorrow and grief.
This past year has provided some of us with a deeper understanding of and empathy for the ongoing mental health challenges endured by our neighbors, friends and family. During Mental Health Awareness Month, especially, our church intentionally recognizes the anguish our siblings in Christ experience daily — pandemic or no — and the fear many of them feel about sharing their stories.
As a church we also acknowledge the true depths of these invisible illnesses. Our children, neighbors and friends grappling with mental health issues need to know that God does not love them any less. They need to hear that they, too, are embraced by God's unfathomable love.
Our church cautions against judgmental words and actions that might suggest to someone that their faith is not strong enough or that their outlook on life would improve if they would change certain behaviors. Praying, socializing and exercising are great activities that can help someone get out of a slump or move past a painful episode. But this is not always the solution for moderate or severe depression, bipolar depression, anxiety or even grief. Telling someone they aren't doing enough to be happy creates a sense of stigma that they are not living "correctly." We need to listen so that our words of care and compassion guide others to the help they need. We need to support people in their struggles, walking side by side in partnership with them through the good days and the bad.
Dear church, God loves us all. No matter how we are grappling, we are not alone; God is with us. Throughout May and beyond, we must seek ways to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness and continually love everyone compassionately as a child of God. We must embrace the benefits of therapy and encourage the use of medication when necessary in supporting and sustaining mental health and wellness. We must also work to ensure access to affordable mental health care for all people, especially those living in poverty or in historically marginalized communities.
Our faith teaches that caring for health is a shared endeavor. Being the body of Christ means carrying one another's burdens; it also means placing our burdens in God's hands and admitting to a caring person close to us that we need help. This is true no matter how great or small our anguish may be.
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
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CHICAGO — The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) met electronically April 14-17. The council, which serves as the ELCA's board of directors, took action on a variety of matters intended to advance this church's mission and ministry.
In response to action taken by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly that declared the ELCA a sanctuary church body, the council approved a motion to recognize that the ELCA's ministry as a sanctuary church body is a public witness that calls ELCA members to value the dignity of each human being made in God's image. The council also encouraged an understanding of the word "sanctuary" that is rooted in the principles of walking alongside, or accompanying, immigrants and refugees but acknowledged that "sanctuary" has no legal or universally accepted definition. This action also affirmed the guidance provided in the "ELCA Sanctuary Church Guidelines" for ways congregations, synods and the churchwide organization can accompany and support the ministry of sanctuary.
The council approved a revision of "Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline," effective immediately and applicable only to conduct occurring — or alleged to have occurred — after the date this resolution was adopted. The document describes the grounds by which officers, rostered ministers, candidates for rostered ministry, congregations and members of congregations may be subject to discipline according to the practice of this church.
The council received the final report from the Mission Support experiment synods. In response, the council urged the churchwide organization and the synods to incorporate the learnings from the mission support experiments into future collaboration and encouraged the formation of a project team that would include bishops, churchwide organization staff and others to discuss future strategies for mission support sharing between synods and the churchwide organization. The synods that participated in the Mission Support experiment were: the Lower Susquehanna Synod, the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod, the Nebraska Synod, the New England Synod and the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod. "Mission support" refers to the financial offerings that congregations share with synods and the churchwide organization.
In other action, the council:
The council also engaged in:
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