2020 SWCA Synod Bulletin of Reports

An Introduction to the Southwest California Bulletin of Reports 2020

At the beginning of February, 2020, the plan for the 2020 Synod Assembly was to enjoy a combined gathering and celebration of both the Southwest California and Pacifica Synods. We had planned to share our learning sessions and workshops, have separate business sessions, and throughout the assembly we would tell each other our stories of faith and ministry as we gathered together on the campus of California Lutheran University, an ELCA center of education for both synods. It was going to be a time to worship together, and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women in the Lutheran Church, the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women of color, and the 10th anniversary of LGBTQIA+ individuals being able to freely serve. There were going to be elections of new council members, including a Synod Vice President. We were scheduled to discuss the 2020 Bishop’s Colloquy as an opportunity for rostered leaders to address the plight of systemic racism that has plagued our nation, neighborhoods, and also our church communities. We were preparing to explore with our congregations, the synod, and the ELCA Churchwide Expression ways to recommit to and engage in processes of just and equitable relationships one with another.

By the beginning of March, 2020, congregational leaders were improvising ways to address the church activities that could otherwise likely spread the virus, such as the distribution of Holy Communion, the Passing of the Peace, singing, sitting next to each other for an hour in worship and classrooms. Then came the need to cancel in-person services. Many congregations chose to employ various strategies to address worship practices in a time of contagious disease. Some began to stream and record church services online to minimize exposure of our most vulnerable populations – older adults, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, as well as those who work with at-risk populations or have them in their households. Many were making those decisions even before California State mandates made it a requirement. Congregations learned, and have continued to learn, to be church “outside the building.” Many tackled the steep learning curves into the realm of YouTube, Facebook Live, and Zoom gatherings. At the same time, in response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on community and neighbors, congregations moved outside their buildings or to no public gatherings at all. Yet they continued to be in ministry with each other and address the needs around them as they provided essential services. Some have been able to redefine themselves as food pantries and social support systems. Congregations used their own resources. Some received assistance from the SWCA Synod. Government funding was available.

Our Synod Assembly was first postponed, then cancelled. When we next gather for an assembly, now in 2021, we will not only elect a new Vice President, two thirds of Synod Council, twelve other Synod leadership positions, but we will also be electing our next Bishop.

The Synod Assembly Bulletin of Reports usually acts as a measure and summary of what has happened in the body of our church for the past year. What is now available on this page is a partial version of that report. This year’s Bulletin of Reports, by necessity and circumstance, is more a summary of what was happening until that body was faced with the forces of pandemic like our country has not seen in 100 years. It comes to us as we address deep social crises and changes, and as we are challenged to rise to meet the demands of those changes. The Bulletin of Reports is a picture of a church in transition, not unlike that which Bishop Eaton cited in her Easter Message, when the first Christians were facing the fact that their “world had changed utterly and completely.” In this report, you will find stories of transitions, as well as the stories of faith and action that have defined our denomination as a “God’s Work, Our Hands” church body. Please share these stories within your communities and send us more of your own stories as you have them to news@socalsynod.org.

At this time, the Bulletin of Reports comes without the financial section. We have been patiently waiting to hear back from the synod’s auditors regarding the final financial accounting. As soon as that section is completed, we will update it on this page. Thank you all for your ongoing support and life together as the Southwest California Synod-ELCA.

The Rev. Murray D. Finck
Bishop (Interim)
Southwest California Synod-ELCA

Click the headlines below to read about God's Work, Our Hands; 2020 Reports; and Synod Grants

Our Synod as a Community of Believers

Anniversaries | In Memoriam | Synod Events

We are Church, We are Called: 50 | 40 | 10

Financial Reports

Where does my offering go?

Stories of Faith in Action (Churchwide) | Stories of Faith in Action (SWCA) 

2020 Synod Grants (Mission & Ministry | Charles and Mabel Warner Trust)

2019-2020 Financial Reports – Coming Soon

2020-2021 Budget – Coming Soon

2019-2020 Audit – Coming Soon