2018 Grand Canyon Synod Assembly

June 1

Resurrection Lutheran Church
Oro Valley, AZ

  – A New Paragraph in the History of the Church

A new paragraph was written in history by the voting members of the Grand Canyon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). From the perspective of the long history of the church, the paragraph is a brief one. For this part of the church, however, the paragraph is highly significant.

From June 14 through 16, 107 pastors, two deacons, and 196 lay members of the synod’s 89 congregations met at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Oro Valley, Ariz.

The assembly began with the Service of Holy Communion. Bishop Lowell G. Almen was the presiding minister and ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton was the preaching minister.

During the course of the assembly, Presiding Bishop Eaton explored the assembly’s theme, “We Are Church Together.” She guided the election process for synod bishop and responded to questions asked by voting members on the work that we share throughout the ELCA and beyond.

Voting members:

  1. Elected the Rev. Deborah K. Hutterer to a six-year term as synodical bishop. On September 1, she will become the sixth bishop of the ELCA’s Grand Canyon Synod.
  1. Reelected the Rev. David W. Brandfass (Christ, Sedona, Ariz.) synod secretary.
  1. Nominated the Rev. Jason Adams (Reformation, Las Vegas) and the Rev. Karn Carroll (Our Saviour’s, Phoenix) for possible election by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly to a position on the ELCA Church Council.
  1. Elected to positions on the Synod Council the Rev. Jeff Kallevig (Our Saviour’s, Tucson); the Rev. Tina Mills (Our Savior’s, Mesa and Gold Canyon); Mr. Erik Rehms (Faith, Phoenix); Ms. Nancy Davis (Shepherd of the Hills, Flagstaff); and Ms. Lisa Parrish (Crossroads, San Tan Valley, Ariz.).
  1. Elected to serve as voting members of the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly the Rev. Chon Pugh; the Rev. David Brandfass; Ms. Veronica Alvarez; Ms. Renee Waterstradt; Deacon Janice Zimbelman; Mr. Roger Bailey; Mr. Mike Johnson; and Ms. Erin LaHaye.
  1. Elected to the synod’s Committee on Discipline Ms. Elyse Wheeler; the Rev. Sarah Stadler; and the Rev. Carl Zimmerman.
  1. Gave thanksgiving for the faithful departed and remembered especially the pastors of this synod who joined the church triumphant, praying: “Eternal God, we remember with thanksgiving all of those who have lived as sisters and brothers in Christ and have served you as faithful witnesses to the Gospel and agents of compassion for those in need. Especially this day we give thanks for the pastors of this synod whom you have received this past year into your arms of mercy: John W. Albrecht, Paul W. Baer, William E. Biedermann, Daniel J. Jordahl, Richard A. Larson, Howard W. Mars, John D. Pfeiffer, Donald P. Schneider, and Mary Todd-Pendergast. Keep us united with all the faithful in heaven and on earth and bring us all at last to the eternal banquet in your presence. Amen.”
  1. Approved a resolution (a) urging “voting members of this assembly … to work for passage of common sense laws pertaining to firearms in this country that protect our communities, children, and all citizens from the carnage of gun violence”; (b) calling “upon our congregations to study and discuss existing ELCA statements on violence and appeals for stricter measures on gun control”; (c) encouraging “members to exercise their ministry of advocacy with our elected officials for passage of a Universal Background Check on the sale of all firearms and reinstatement of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (expired in 2004)”; and (d) reaffirming “that this church does not reject gun ownership or the recreational activities associated with guns.”
  1. Approved a resolution calling upon synod congregations in the state of Arizona “to provide current information about the Navajo Evangelical Lutheran Mission needs and explain and promote the Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization … as a part of their missional outreach.”
  1. Referred to the Synod Council a resolution on strategic planning as information supplementing action by the council already under way.
  1. Received a report of a resolution submitted during the course of the assembly urging that the U.S. government cease separating infants and children from their immigrant parents. Formal action will be taken by the Synod Council’s Executive Committee on the resolution (a) that “calls upon the [U.S.] President and the [U.S.] Department of Justice to exercise their power to cease [such separations]”, and (b) that urges “members to exercise their ministry of advocacy with our elected officials for passage of laws to prevent such separations and to speed the reunification of families.” Addressing the issue, Presiding Bishop Eaton noted that she had signed, along with two dozen other religious leaders, a letter, which read: “As religious leaders representing diverse faith perspectives, united in our concern for the well-being of vulnerable migrants who cross our borders fleeing from danger and threats to their lives, we are deeply disappointed and pained [by the Administration’s decision to separate families]. We affirm the family as a foundational societal structure to support human community and understand the household as an estate blessed by God. The security of the family provides critical mental, physical and emotional support to the development and wellbeing of children. Our congregations and agencies serve many migrant families that have recently arrived in the United States. Leaving their communities is often the only option they have to provide safety for their children and protect them from harm. Tearing children away from parents who have made a dangerous journey to provide a safe and sufficient life for them is unnecessarily cruel and detrimental to the well-being of parents and children. As we continue to serve and love our neighbor, we pray for the children and families that will suffer due to this policy and urge the Administration to stop their policy of separating families.” 
  1. Approved the fiscal 2019-2020 mission-spending plan of $2,167,542. The plan maintains the synod’s commitment of 50 percent of each dollar of congregational mission support being devoted to ELCA churchwide ministries throughout this country and the world.
  1. Contributed in the offering $3,256 for the Grand Canyon Synod’s Fund for Leaders scholarships for the education of future pastors and deacons.
  1. Heard the report of Bishop Almen, who reminded assembly participants that they are members not only of their own congregation but also of the whole Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Grand Canyon Synod. He highlighted the key principle of interdependence in the life of the ELCA, reflected in ELCA constitutional provision 8.11., which reads: “This church shall seek to function as people of God through congregations, synods, and the churchwide organization, all of which shall be interdependent. Each part, while fully the church, recognizes that it is not the whole church and therefore lives in a partnership relationship with the others.”

The Rev. Lowell G. Almen