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2017 Synod Assembly Report

The 2017 Southwest California Synod Assembly was held at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks on Friday, June 2 and Saturday, June 3 with the theme “Freed in Christ to Serve.” In conjunction with this year’s assembly, a Day of Learning was held on the CLU campus on Thursday, June 1.

A Festival  Service of Holy Communion was held at Cal Lutheran’s Samuelson Chapel on Saturday in observance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation (livestream available here). An offering of $3900 was designated towards hunger initiatives in the synod territory. The Churchwide Representative was Pastor Ron Glusencamp of the Campaign for the ELCA, and Bishop Andy Taylor of Pacifica Synod was a special guest. The Bible Study leader was Bishop Patricia Lull of the Saint Paul Area Synod.


103 Registered Congregations

279 Voting Members, consisting of –
95 Pastors
156 Lay Leaders
5 Deacons
23 Members of Synod Council

49 Visitors


Assembly members voted on the following Synod Council and Committee positions:

Council Vice-President: Randall Foster

Synod Council Members-at-Large: Cesar Arroyo, David Berkedal, Ruth Sievert, Karen Moyer, Jamie Hovland, Valerie Shaw.

Conference Representatives: Jane Affonso (South Bay), Nola Huss (Central Coast), Todd Kolberg (Twin Valleys).

Misson & Ministry (Endowment Committee): Sue Ma, Emmanuel Valdez

Financial reports  (click on the link for reports)

Two Resolutions were passed 

Assembly members voted overwhelmingly in favor of resolutions to become both a Sanctuary and a Jubilee synod.

The Synod Sanctuary Resolution states not only that “the congregations of our Synod will commit to pray for immigrants and refugees among us and will strive to be places of radical welcome, refuge, and protection” but that “that we will work to protect the dignity, safety, and basic human needs of all immigrants and refugees among us, even by resisting policies that seek to turn away and harm the stranger.”

“Our holy scriptures call on us to ‘love the strangers,'” says Pastor Stephanie Jaeger, convener of the synod’s sanctuary network. “The goal of this sanctuary synod resolution is to empower every Lutheran and every Lutheran congregation in our territory to discern how they can ‘love the strangers’ by supporting immigrants in our churches and communities who are facing possible detention and deportation. For some, this will mean providing comfort and prayer, for others it means helping undocumented persons navigate our complex legal and immigration systems, for others it will mean advocating for immigration reform, protesting unjust detentions, or even providing public sanctuary housing.”

The Jubilee Resolution references the 1999 ELCA social statement “Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All, ” which calls for “reduction of overwhelming international debt burdens in ways that do not impose further deprivations on the poor, and cancellation of some or all debt where severe indebtedness immobilizes a country’s economy.”

“We won $100 million debt relief for Haiti,” states Pastor Herder. “$100 million for the three countries in West Africa fighting Ebola, and $1 billion for Chad. Now we are very involved with Puerto Rico’s $72 billion debt. I love this work also because it’s interfaith work. It’s global work. It’s bipartisan work. It’s work that fulfills what Jesus proclaims in Luke 4.  To be a Jubilee synod or a Jubilee congregation simply means that we are part of this amazing ministry of advocacy, and following our Lord Jesus, declaring and seeing Jubilee for the world’s poorest people.”

One Constitutional Amendment was passed 

The 2016 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA adopted a number of changes to the Model Constitutions for Synods of the ELCA. These changes merge diaconal ministers, associates in ministry, and deacons into a roster of Ministers of Word and Service, while ordained ministers are now referred to as Ministers of Word and Sacrament. The SWCA Synod Constitution was amended as an item of business to reflect these changes.

Mission & Ministry and Warner Grants 

Eighteen grants for Mission Outreach from the Mission & Ministry Fund, to be used for mission outreach as defined in the synod’s mission goals, were awarded by the Endowment Committee at the assembly. The Charles and Mable Warner Trust Fund, administered by the Executive Committee of the Synod Council, awarded two grants designated for the construction of Sunday School facilities and to further youth Christian education.

Consider how a Synod Grant could benefit your ministry, and plan your Mission & Ministry or Warner Trust Fund grant application in advance! An invitation to apply for either of our two grant programs will be sent to congregations, institutions, and agencies towards the end of the year, as well as posted on the website. Find out more about this year’s grants here!


Clarence E. Anderson Peace and Justice Award

The 2017 Clarence E. Anderson Peace and Justice Award was awarded posthumously to our “Faithful and Fabulous Female Forerunners,” brave women allies who advocated for LGBT equality in the church at a time when such advocacy was not always met with widespread acceptance. They are:
  • Mabel Dilley (St. Matthew’s, North Hollywood)
  • Pastor Carol Nolte (St. Andrew’s, Los Angeles)
  • Barbara Price, (Assistant to the Bishop – Southwest California Synod, ELCA)
  • Susan Tapia (Hollywood, Hollywood)
  • Pastor Susan Wolfe Devol (St. Matthew’s, North Hollywood)

Find out more about the Clarence E. Anderson Peace and Justice Award here.


Living the Resurrection

Living the Resurrection, initiated in 2016 in the SWCA Synod, is an exploration of the passions and struggles of both a congregation and its neighborhood as well as a discernment of where God is working to build connections. Eight congregations are currently in the middle of the Living the Resurrection process, which will continue through May of 2018. A new Learning Community for Living the Resurrection is forming the summer of 2017. If your church is ready to be made new again, watch the video and download the PDF, and let’s get moving! Contact Pastor Marj Funk-Pihl at for more information.

#SWCA17 Videos (please check for updates)

Bulletin of Reports 

The #swca17 Guidebook contained all the information available in the Bulletin of Reports and was updated throughout the Synod Assembly. Please consider accessing the Guidebook online as an alternative to printing out the Bulletin of Reports PDFs

Access the 2017 Synod Assembly Guidebook Online

Printable PDFs
2017 Synod Assembly Notebook: Agenda
2017 Synod Assembly Notebook: Reports 
2017 Synod Assembly Notebook: Finance
2017 Synod Assembly Notebook: Nominations
2017 Synod Assembly Notebook: Resolutions
2017 Synod Assembly Notebook: Constitutional Amendment 
2017 Synod Assembly Notebook: Hymns


2017 Synod Assembly Photo Gallery