Skip to content


Bishop’s Report to Synod – Third Quarter 2023

Grace and peace to you! This summer was quieter than last summer for me. Last year I was traveling to our sister synod in El Salvador and to Columbus, Ohio for the triennial Churchwide Assembly. There was a week in Holden Village in Washington and various other bishop commitments. It’s nice to just be in our synod this summer.

We rejoice in the ordinations of Pastor Jade Ortiz to Redimidos and Deacon Natalie Larkin as a spiritual director. We are also excited to announce the SAM Academy, starting mid-September. SAMs are Synodically Authorized Ministers. Many synods utilize these lay leaders, who have been lifted up in their congregations to preach and teach and care for congregants when a congregation cannot afford an ordained leader or their leader is not available for an extended period of time. Pastor Abel Arroyo Traverso has created this first course on preaching, which will bring people through ten weeks of learning on preaching in context, preaching for festivals, preaching for seniors and youth, etc. We are inviting a wide variety of pastors from our synod to teach us. It’s not too late to sign up! If you are interested, please click here.

Pastor Toni Rose Casteneda Carrera has been working with many congregations in transition. She has designed “Pathways of Mobility” for congregations. This process helps congregations determine what their overall health is, including their number of capable volunteers and viability of their building. As congregations understand their capacity more clearly, they can make clearer decisions about what ministries they are able to take on. Even the smallest congregations can find ways to serve God and God’s people. Others may determine their ministry has run its course. We are ready to help a congregation move into holy closure, and help them see the amazing legacy gifts they can use to support other ministries. Lisa Higginbotham is a wonderful resource for these legacy conversations.

I feel strongly this honest assessment is part of God’s work among us. We have seen the decline in membership over the past decade or two, and must acknowledge this is a very real trend. Instead of wringing our hands and wondering what we’ve done wrong, I believe we need to praise God for the pruning. Yes, pruning is painful (there’s a farm implement involved!) but it produces sweeter fruit and healthier plants. We have to admit God is pruning us. This is not destroying trees; it’s improving the harvest. My pledge in the remaining four years of this term is to help congregations deepen their faith expressions, being more committed to the Risen Savior. The world needs Jesus. It’s possible (maybe likely) that God is asking us to bring Jesus to the world in different ways. The “Sunday morning only” model has failed the world, and we need to recognize that.

There is a dying here. We can grieve. We should grieve. And then we need to get ourselves to the garden and meet the Risen Savior. Remember in the Easter morning story, Mary didn’t recognize Jesus at first. I’ve always been fascinated by that. Did He look really different? Or was it simply that she couldn’t imagine He would be there? Had her grief kept her from recognizing Him? What’s happening in our own encounters with Jesus? Does He look different? Maybe. Or is He appearing in new places? Definitely. And how might our grief be affecting our ability to encounter Jesus? Much to consider and pray about.

Pastor Tracy Williams has visited with many of your congregations, providing intentional care. Pastor Chryll Crews is about to start year-end reviews on our Strategic Ministries and Synodically Authorized Worshipping Communities. We have put out a call for volunteers who are interested in learning more about these cutting edge ministries and participating in their support and assessment. If you want more information, contact Pastor Crews at  TaSh Elzie is revamping the synod website. Deacon Cecelia Travick Jackson launches a new senior ministry task force in September. Tyra Dennis and the Synod Youth leaders are launching an exciting $125k fundraising campaign to ensure all young people in the synod can attend the ELCA National Youth Gathering in New Orleans in 2024. If you are interested in donating to this important ministry, please click here.  There’s a lot going on.

Your generous gifts have kept us sustainable and able to dream of financial freedom in our future. Please continue to participate in these ministries with your offerings. Ask your church leadership how much your donation to the synod is. Maybe this is the year to support these ministries more intentionally with your congregational gift, or with a personal gift to the synod. We give 45% of your synod offerings to the ELCA and 5% to California Lutheran University and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. The other 50% of your offerings is used right here in Southern California, advancing the gospel in Lutheran contexts.

We are continuing our search for a Director of Finance and Administration for the synod staff. This position will be a key leader in streamlining our synod office function and guiding us forward into our financial future. We have a lot of resources, and I feel God calling us to new and bold ways to utilize those resources. Of course we will report more details as they emerge.

And finally, we welcomed seven new council members at our synod council retreat in August. They have agreed to meet quarterly, in person, for six hour meetings. This is a return to our old format, pre-COVID. We are excited to see what God will do with more intentional time together.

I’m considering rewriting my first paragraph, where I said it was a “quieter summer.” I suppose it’s all relative. As I enter my third year as your bishop, I thank you for your trust in me, and praise God for the opportunity to lead this church forward into God’s glorious future. Clearly, God is not done with us yet.

Read More »Bishop’s Report to Synod – Third Quarter 2023

Bishop’s Pastoral Letter in response to the shooting in Monterey Park



「聽,你兄弟的鮮血正從地底向我呼喊!」創世紀 4:10

2023 年 1 月 21 日,星期六,二十人在加州蒙特利公園被槍手射殺。 第二天,警方在托倫斯找到了開槍自殺的槍手。 這個可怕的事件發生在我們的城市,殺死了我們的兄弟姐妹。 兇手開車穿過我們的街道,在阿罕布拉停留,試圖繼續殺戮。 我們兄弟的鮮血從我們自己社區的土地上向我們呼喊。

對於我們中的許多人來說,我們醒來時聽到了大規模槍擊事件的消息,感到沮喪但筋疲力盡。 我愣了一會兒才意識到這些謀殺案發生在我們的教區裡:如此地接近。 無論如何——各地的犯罪都應該由各地的人來打擊。 但我們在這裡對受害者和急救人員負有特殊責任。

西南加州教區在我們中間有大量華裔人口,有幾個華人教會或敬拜團契。 我們的許多亞裔牧師報告說,早在這起事件發生之前,他們的會眾就害怕離開家園。 新聞報導稱今年的農曆新年是人們願意聚集在一起慶祝的第一批春節之一。 而現在發生這種事情。

我請求我們所有人,無論身在何處,都為亞裔社區祈禱,尤其是讓反亞裔仇恨消退。 如果你有亞洲朋友,請和他們聯繫,看看他們好不好。 如果您是我們華人、日本或菲律賓教會之一的成員,或者是 AAPI 社區的成員,請知道我們愛您並為您祈禱。 我們需要不再將這些視為「單一事件」。 槍支暴力影響到我們所有人。

我將在 1 月 25 日星期三晚上 7 點召開禱告會和談話會。 祈禱很重要,但我們知道我們還必須組織起來影響立法者和執法部門,使我們的城市和國家更加安全。 這是一場長期的鬥爭,我們將與其他幾十年來一直致力於解決槍支暴力問題的人一起努力。 這場運動總是需要新的聲音,我邀請你加入我們。ZOOM會議鏈接為

請和我一起祈禱:宇宙萬物的主啊,請給我們帶來平安。 給我們勇氣和澄清的思緒,去結束街頭暴力。 我們為本週末在蒙特利公園失去親人的家庭以及所有受槍支暴力影響的人祈禱。 幫助我們通過明智的法律,找到打破我們國家槍支暴力循環的方法。 賜福給必須處理這些謀殺案的急救人員。 幫助已經生活在如此恐懼和仇恨中的亞裔社群。 保護他們,安慰他們。 讓我們成為一個更好的教會,以你的聖名提供支持和關懷。 阿們。

Read More »Bishop’s Pastoral Letter in response to the shooting in Monterey Park

Bishop’s 2023 MLK Day Message

Durante muchos años, cuando conmemoramos el cumpleaños del Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., me hace recordar mi educación en el seminario. Parecía que cada vez que se mencionaba al Dr. King, la conversación eventualmente se convertiría en la pregunta: “¿Habrías marchado con el Dr. King?”  Los seminaristas liberales blancos decían muy rápido y orgullosamente: “ABSOLUTAMENTE”. En sus mentes, se imaginaban a sí mismos(as) en las fotos en blanco y negro que vemos en los libros de historia, unidos brazo y brazo con el Dr. King en la línea del frente.

Quería estar de acuerdo con ellos(as), pero no estaba tan segura. Ojalá hubiera tenido la visión y el coraje para marchar, pero lo más probable es que yo hubiera sido una de esos moderados(as) blancos(as) que le pidieron al Dr. King que disminuyera la velocidad, que no fuera tan audaz. Incluso, los afroamericanos(as) no pueden aplicar el coraje, y la relativa seguridad de hoy, como en las decisiones que la gente tomó en los años 60, cuando marcharon. La idea de los Derechos Civiles fue controvertida. La participación pública tenía un precio: pérdida de posición social, pérdida de ingresos, amigos(as), familia y, a veces, su libertad, y vida. El largo pero maravilloso libro de David Halberstam, “The Children”, cuenta historias asombrosas de varios jóvenes que arriesgaron todo por la justicia. No había GoFundMe para ayudar. No hay hashtags, ni siquiera teléfonos celulares, a veces ni siquiera teléfonos residenciales para que las personas estén en contacto. La gente necesitaba pararse cerca de una cabina telefónica pública esperando una llamada de noticias sobre la seguridad de familiares, y amigos(as) que protestaban. El Dr. King y quienes trabajaron con él conocían los riesgos, y los tomaron porque sentían que tenían que hacerlo.

Vivimos en un tiempo diferente. Tenemos el enorme privilegio de vivir en un tiempo, y lugar donde la justicia social está escrita en el ADN de muchas de las organizaciones a las que pertenecemos, y en lo que hacemos. Para la mayoría de nosotros(as), ira una protesta contra la brutalidad policial no arriesga nuestros trabajos o posición social. Por supuesto, nuestras diferencias en el estado documentado, el color de la piel, los medios financieros para contratar abogados, etc., influye profundamente en los riesgos que podemos asumir. Pero para muchos(as) de nosotros(as), tenemos la capacidad de ponernos en primera línea de maneras que tal vez no hubiéramos podido en la década de 1960.

Este día de MLK, quiero reconocer el enorme costo que el Dr. King y que otros(as) pagaron. También, quiero reconocer nuestras obligaciones actuales de continuar el trabajo. No podemos detenernos hasta que todos(as) seamos “libres por fin”.  El hecho de que vivamos hoy, casi sesenta años después del Dr. King, es un regalo. Tenemos libertades, leyes y estructuras sociales que surgieron debido a su llamado a un cambio real.  Tenemos oportunidades de arriesgar nuestra comodidad por las necesidades de los demás. Oremos por la guía de Dios sobre a dónde nos llevará este llamado a la justicia a cada uno de nosotros.

Este domingo, 18 de enero, el Sínodo del Suroeste de California ofrecerá nuestro43º servicio anual de conmemoración, y celebración de Martin Luther King. Este servicio on-line se estrenará a las 15h en Por favor, sintonice este inspirador servicio de adoración con tantas personas de nuestro sínodo, incluido el pastor de la Universidad Luterana de California, el Reverendo Scott Adams, como predicador. La memoria del Dr. King será una bendición para usted, y el nombre de Dios será alabado.

Además, el sábado, 25 de febrero, únase a la familia de Nelson Trout a la 1pm, mientras unidos(as), dedicamos la capilla del Reverendo Dr. Nelson W. Trout en el Centro Luterano en Glendale. El Dr. Trout fue el primer Obispo luterano de ascendencia africana en la Iglesia Luterana Americana, y ex pastor de Community Lutheran en Los Ángeles. El lunes 27 de febrero, el Reverendo Kenneth Wheeler, será el anfitrión de una firma de su nuevo libro, “US, The Resurrection of American Terror” en el Centro Luterano. El pastor Wheeler sirvió como pastor en nuestro sínodo antes de servir como asistente del obispo en el Sínodo del Gran Milwaukee. Por favor, únase a nosotros para celebrar a estos notables líderes de nuestra ciudad e iglesia.

Obispa Brenda Bos

Read More »Bishop’s 2023 MLK Day Message

Bishop’s Quarterly Report – 4th Quarter

May God bless and keep you in 2023.

I write to give you a report on the Southwest California Synod from the fourth quarter of 2022. Our fiscal year runs February-January, but since most of us think in calendar years, I report as of December, 2022.

At our synod council meeting on December 19, 2022, we received news that our property in Pasadena, the former Messiah Lutheran Church has sold, and the property in Chatsworth, the former Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church is in escrow. We rejoice in the possibilities these building sales afford us for future ministry. We are still reaping the benefits of the sales of a property in Van Nuys and North Hollywood, and fund many ministries with our endowment which came from the sale of First Lutheran in Los Angeles over a decade ago. While the closure of a congregation is sad, the sale of property offers a lasting legacy for hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

Our 2022 Synod Assembly approved a budget which would cover our income shortfalls with the sale of these buildings. Indeed, we can finance a shortfall of $100,000s for several years with these funds. Our current continuing resolution in our constitution calls for us to pay off any existing debt on buildings which are sold, tithe 10% to the ELCA, retain 8% of the sale for handling costs from the synod (staff who worked on maintenance, property management, etc) and then 1/3 to go to synod operating costs and 2/3 to be spend on new or renewed ministry.

As you can imagine, with millions of dollars in proceeds, we can dream big dreams for new and renewed ministries. We are already working toward these ministries with increased spending in senior ministry and youth ministry as well as added support for congregations in transition and in need of pastoral care from the synod. I will be proposing additional ministry support to the synod council at our March meeting, and the budget presented at Synod Assembly in June will also give delegates a chance to make decisions about spending, saving and investment options.

It’s remarkable, in this time of diminishing resources, to receive this new financial influx. I want us to be thoughtful about this money, saving some for future needs, but also strengthening ministry now. I want to encourage you, dear reader, to consider ways you too can be generous in this season. How might you consider your resources differently, using them for the needs which are currently facing your family, your church, your neighborhood? We serve a God who served 5000 with five loaves and two fish. What might God do with what we consider meager resources?

To that end, our synod income, that is, donations from congregations, is coming in below budget, which is common for this time of year. We expect giving will come up to budget, or near budget, as year-end giving and January donations come in. Deficit spending was expected, and will be covered by the 1/3 of building sale proceeds mentioned earlier. Our 2023-2024 budget also has this coverage built in. Of course, we cannot rely on building sales forever. We will need to find additional sources of income, including grants. Since so many of our new ministries work with hunger, youth and seniors and mental health, I anticipate we could become eligible for grants in the near future and will be pursuing this. This is a perfect example of creating partnerships outside the church to serve the needs of our communities.

We will be inviting you into house meetings with members of our synod council and other interested leaders to hear what your congregation cares about and how we might all work together to be church in the future. Facilitators will be contacting your congregational leaders to set up this informal but guided conversations about your learnings from COVID, how you are faring in this economy, etc. As we plan our future, it’s important to be able to hear from people in the pews!

Our staff is working with several congregations to collaborate on ministry together. We are currently working with groups in the Antelope Valley and Long Beach to consider shared worship and service. Both the Central Coast and Greater Long Beach conferences work together to support the ministries of Iglesia Santa Cruz and Fe Y Esperanza. The Twin Valleys Parish has goals to work together on youth, Latinx ministries, homelessness and general sustainability. We expect other partnerships will emerge out of our house meeting conversations.  What might God be calling us to do?

Here are some upcoming events I’d like to share with you: Synod Assembly will be June 2 and 3 at CLU, under the theme of “Caring for the Body of Christ.” This assembly will include information, speakers and a celebration of how to make your ministry site accessible to seniors, the disabled, and those who have not felt like they are members of the Body of Christ.

Bishop’s Colloquy will be March 27 and 28 and will feature multiple workshops on worship arts. Sandra Dager will join us to teach about embodied worship leadership, Paul Heatley will teach us how to compose psalms and songs, Leah Chang will lead a banner workshop and many other artists will be added.

Our synod treasurer, Mike Metzger, will offer an on-line training for congregational treasurers on Saturday, January 28 at 10 am. He will offer an on-line training for congregational secretaries on Saturday, February 18 at 10am. I will be offering an on-line training and encouragement to congregational presidents on Saturday, February 11 at 10am. All of these zoom meetings will be recorded. This is a wonderful time for newly elected and seasoned officers to learn the ropes and find your peers.

As you can see, we have a lot to look forward to in the coming months. I continue to be honored, humbled and excited to serve as your bishop.

Read More »Bishop’s Quarterly Report – 4th Quarter