2020 has not been the year any of us hoped for; still, a quick look from Synod Assembly 2019 to when synod assembly 2020 would have been reveals that God is working in all things for good! Here are some of the places and ways God is moving right here, right now.
We have six new start ministries. They are at various places on the path from brand new to ready to become an official congregation of the ELCA. Each of these receives some funding from both the synod and churchwide expressions of the ELCA and is reviewed annually by the EOMT. Here’s our group:
AdoreLA: Pastor Joseph Castenada Carrera serves a parallel development that involves AdoreLA and Hollywood Lutheran. AdoreLA’s focus is on LGBTQIA Latinx and those who love them.
Another Level Ministries: Pastor Jonathan Hemphill serves both Another Level Ministries (ALM) and Ascension Lutheran LA. ALM focuses on younger African American people, Ascension is an established congregation of older African Americans.
Fruit of the Spirit: Pastor Hongsun Kim serves a Japanese and Korean focused ministry and is a parallel development with Pastor Dale Krumland at Christ the King, Torrance.
Glory Lutheran Church: Pastor Newman Chiu is a Mandarin speaking Chinese ministry hosted by First Lutheran in Torrance, with a large student ministry on the campus of USC. We were going to celebrate Glory becoming a recognized congregation of the ELCA at assembly 2019, but we’ll have to do it in 2021. They will be taking all the necessary votes soon via Zoom.
Iglesia Santa Cruz: Pastor Esteban Salazar serves a Spanish speaking ministry in Santa Maria. He has completed the process to be received from another tradition, and will be officially received as soon as we can gather in person.
Redimidos, Oxnard: New Teem Candidate Pastor Jade Ortiz is developing our newest bilingual ministry as well as serving with Pastor Nancy Switzler at the Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer in Oxnard.
This group of congregations are vital but not fully sustainable, therefore they are suffering the most during this pandemic season. The grants they receive from both the synod and the churchwide expressions of the ELCA are helping, but they are also working very hard in their own contexts.
Central Lutheran: Pastor Marsha Harris serves this bilingual congregation in Van Nuys. They partner with Hope of the Valley and others to provide food distribution as well as hot meals and other services to their neighbors. This is the first year that Central has received synod and churchwide funding to help support their ministry.
Fe Y Esperanza: Pastor Martha Moscoso Salazar pastors this congregation in Southgate. They lead a needed food distribution program as well as mental health support for their neighbors. This is Fe’s first year to receive synod and churchwide funding to help support the ministry.
Pueblo de Dios: Pastor Samuel Nieva pastors this vital congregation in Compton. They show God’s love for all worship, Bible Study and food distribution. They used to make tomales and papusas to sell to support their ministry, but Covid put a stop to that. Not to be deterred, they started making and selling facemasks! I hope you were inspired by Bishop Eaton to purchase and wear facemasks from Pueblo! If not – please do – contact Pastor Samuel Nieva!
St Matthew’s North Hollywood: Pastor Stephanie Jaeger serves this hard working congregation. Their ministry to those experiencing homelessness is such a strong part of who they are as a congregation that they formed a 501C3 (NoHo Home Alliance) to help support it. This is the last year they will receive funding from both the synod and Churchwide.
Emmanuel, Bakersfield: Pastor Dawn Wilder serves this newly RIC congregation as they continue to discover ways to love their neighbors. Recently they began working inside the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility. This is the last year they will receive funding from both the synod and Churchwide.
Synod Vitality Strategy
Twin Valley’s Latinx Ministry: The Twin Valley’s conference applied for and received a grant from Churchwide to begin a strategy among some of its congregations to develop a ministry with their Latinx/Hispanic neighbors. The strategy is a bit stalled by COVID-19, but will resume as soon as possible.
This year I developed and began offering two single day workshops, both of them can be offered via Zoom.
Channeling Experience and Energy to Motivate Change uses Appreciative Inquiry as a change strategy. See our webpage for more info.
Grieving Loss, Discerning Hope, Building Resilience: uses Appreciative Inquiry to move from people fromloss to resilience. If you are interested in doing this workshop in your conference, or with another group of congregations – contact me!
Somehow being isolated brings out the blogger in me – not very often though. The blogs are meant to help us recognize what God is up to in this time of pandemic. You can still find them, read and respond to them here.
Evangelical Outreach Mission Team
Your Evangelical Outreach Mission Team is the best team ever: Joe Zheng, Zekiah Wright, Pr. Marsha Harris, Nolan Green, Todd Kolberg, Laura Wilcox, Valerie Shaw, Wanda Rosado. We annually review all New Starts and Strategic Ministries and recommend grant awards to the synod council for the next year. This year, because of the pandemic, we were able to award $10,0000 in grants from our EOMT fund for Food Distribution. Since we were awarded $10,000 from the ELCA COVID-19 Appeal and $35,000 from the Lutheran Disaster Relief-COVID-19 fund, we were able to fund our synod’s COVID-19 Love for Neighbor Grants. We gave away $55,000 to 23 congregation. Without your gifts to the ELCA our cupboards would be bare. Thanks you for letting God work through you so freely!
The MET process is the first step as a congregation prepares to call a new pastor. This year King of Glory in Newbury Park and St Timothy in Lakewood have completed the process. The pandemic has slowed this process a bit, but Peace in Lompoc, Calvary in Morro Bay, Hope in Atascadero, Mt Carmel in San Luis Obispo are all on their way.
Our new start ministry for Thai people in Hollywood closed in February. Pastor Golf Chutimapongrat returned to Thailand.
Living the Resurrection (link)
The third Learning Community was almost done with the 18-month Living the Resurrection process with the shut down shut us down. They soon rallied and figured out how to work with their neighbor partners in new ways. Adaptation and innovation are the keys to vitality. Lutheran Church of the Master, Lancaster, Resurrection in Redondo Beach and Lutheran Church of the Master, West LA have all learned to carry and use these keys!
LC4 in 2021: We are starting a fourth Learning Community in February of 2021. Recruiting will begin in the Fall. Two other synods will join us: Pacifica and Arkansas-Oklahoma. My goal is for each synod to have a team of leaders who know how to facilitate the Living the Resurrection process in their contexts. If you want to be part of that – contact me!!
I remain forever thankful that Bishop Erwin gave me the opportunity to be your DEM.
Yours in the mission of God through the ELCA in SWCA,