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Office of the Bishop Reports


Bishop Deborah Hutterer Report  

(View as PDF)
Sing the Lord a new song is the theme of the Synod Assembly 2019. 

These first months in office continue to assure me that we are better together as God works among us to build on the strong melodies of the past. The Holy Spirit is leading us into a new future. You, people of the GCS, have offered your support by attending the installation, sending notes, offering encouraging and challenging words, your visits, and prayers. 

The Synod Council leaders have faithfully engaged in our work. The Executive Committee has been readily available, including vice president Paul Gryniewicz and interim vice president Barbara Carl who both shared the role this year. 

Jerry Zaddack will complete his term of four years as GCS treasurer. Jerry was on my speed dial, always answered, and was always the first to say, “Did we pray about that?” There are faithful leaders in the GCS, and we are all blessed by their participation. Please thank him for his ministry to the Synod in this role. 

Former Bishops Talmage and Almen have been readily available for the unexpected questions, I write this report as I begin my 8th month of serving the role of Grand Canyon Synod Bishop. 

My goals for this year were: 


Identify and appoint staff ready to serve the GCS by January 31, 2019. 

  • The Office of the Bishop team is fully staffed and was completed by January 15, 2019. 

    • Bishop Deborah Hutterer (F-T) 

    • Pastor Miguel Gomez-Acosta (F-T), Director of Evangelical Mission and Associate to the Bishop for Congregational Vitality 

    • Pastor Jaqueline Pagel (F-T), Associate to the Bishop for Candidacy and Faith Formation 

    • Norine Floyd (F-T), Director of Administration and Events 

    • Pastor Mark Holman (P-T), contracted, Associate to the Bishop for Mobility and Leadership 

    • Dr. Jerry Kingman (volunteer), Special Associate for Mobility 

    • Brian Flatgard (3/4 time), contracted, Director of Communication 

    • Clint Wasser, CPA, contracted, Director of Finance 

  • We thank God for Kimberlee Stevens, Dr. Teri Traaen, and Wendell Harris who served the GCS so faithfully over the past years. 

Visit every conference meeting and hold Spring Gatherings that included all conferences in the GCS by May 1, 2019. 

  • This was completed April 6, 2019. Thank you for those who attended and offered your voices to the work we do together as church. 

Office of the Bishop will visit every GCS ministry site by March 8, 2020. The Bishop will visit every GCS ministry site by September 30, 2020. 

  • As of May 30, the Office of the Bishop team will have visited 57 ministry sites. 

  • As of May 30, I will have visited 32 ministry sites, many visits included preaching, and some were visits with leaders. 


Oversee and guide the transition planning process for the GCS that was approved by the GCS Council. Make a presentation to the GCS Assembly, June 14-15, 2019. 

  • The GCS contracted with Rev. Dr. Len Hoffmann to facilitate and guide our process. The work included the voices of the Synod Council, Deans, Fall Gathering of Rostered Leaders, retired pastors and GCS Conferences. 


Grow accountability and transparency by increasing communication that includes a weekly email update and updated website. 

  • Weekly email communications began January 15, 2019. 

  • GCS website was updated and launched March 1, 2019. Updates and additions are being added as we receive feedback. 

Follow through with events and commitments on the calendar that included Conference of Bishops, installations, anniversaries and ordinations. 

  • Ordinations: Rev. Kathleen Lotz, Rev. Abel Arroyo, Rev. John Barton. 

  • Installations: Rev. Sharon Brown, Rev. Patricia Lowe, Rev. Tim Eighmy, Rev. Abel Arroyo, Rev. Stephen Hilding, Canon Debbie Royals, Rev. Andrea Cain. 

  • Ordination and Consecration of Episcopal Bishop Jennifer Reddall, also the 6th bishop for Episcopal Church in AZ and first female in AZ. 

  • Conference of Bishop meetings in September 2018 and March 2019. 

  • And other calendar items. 

During Synod Assembly those gathered will engage in conversation about how we will go about living our mission over these next years as we: 

Communicate Jesus. 

Connect People. 

Create Possibilities. 

One core message of our faith as Christians in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is that as people loved by God, we respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors. I have been wrestling with a few questions around withering congregations, the immigration and border concerns in Arizona and Nevada, how we tell our stories about the mighty acts of God in our lives, and how to be open to the new song when we only know the melodies of the past. 

Dr. Cynthia Moe-Lobeda of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary once asked during a presentation: “What if being a neighbor means taking a stand? To advocate, to seek justice and peace – even if it means we are being called into controversy?” 

Bishops in the ELCA do not “fix” people or congregations. It is not our polity. It is my work to encourage you to go out into your neighborhood and community and discover the one thing that you could do to make a difference. It is my work to provide resources. It is my work to call you to be courageous as you ask where God is calling you to love and serve. 

Paul’s words to the Romans come to mind as we go forward as church together knowing that it is God’s church…

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

May we all be open to hear God’s new song in our midst! 


Bishop Deborah K. Hutterer

Paul Gryniewicz

Paul Gryniewicz

Vice President’s Report

(View as PDF) With all the changes taking place in the church and the world, this past year has been a year of activity and innovation. This is a great time to be engaged, partnering with others discovering a new way of being church together. 

The Grand Canyon Synod elected as our 6th Bishop, the Rev. Deborah K. Hutterer, succeeding interim bishop the Rev. Dr. Lowell G Allman. Bishop Deborah assumed her duties as bishop on September 1, 2018. Special thanks go to Bishop Lowell for his steady and faithful leadership as he served as Grand Canyon Synod Interim Bishop. His steady hand was much appreciated throughout the entire election cycle.

I also want to thank Synod Council member Ms. Barbra Carl who so ably served as interim Council Vice President during my illness and recovery last fall. 

At the Synod Council’s Annual Retreat, last October, as directed by Resolution MSP SC 18.06.03, the Synod Council and Conference Deans began the process of visioning what the next 3 years of our life together would be. Under the leadership of Bishop Hutterer and Consultant the Rev. Dr. Leonard Hoffman, the group met again in December to continue the visioning process. The details and results of this process will be discussed elsewhere at this assembly. I do want to express my gratitude to all the Synod Council Members and Conference Deans for all of the effort they put into this visioning process. Every word in the final document was discussed and discussed some more. It was truly a collaborative effort and a blessing to watch it all unfold. 

The Synod Council meets four times a year and serves as board of directors of the synod. Council responsibilities include recommending program goals, budgets, letters of calls, carrying out resolutions of the assembly and performing other functions as set forth in the synod constitution, bylaws and delegated by the Assembly.  The Synod Council is comprised of 20 members, lay and clergy from all areas of the synod.  This is the first year that all newly elected council members will receive a packet of information including a position description.  This year, Bishop Hutterer and I are asking all Council members past, present and newly elected to read – Canoeing the Mountains, Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory by Tod Bolsinger.  This book will give us a common starting point as we tackle the issues before us.

During February, March and April, all nine Conferences gathered in five location across the synod to review and discuss the results of our visioning process and begin a conversation on the future of our congregations.  The gatherings were facilitated by a Synod Council Member and a pastor. These meetings were also an opportunity for individual members to build relationships with neighboring congregations and for the synod staff to receive input from members. Thank you to everyone who participated.

In February I attended ELCA Vitality Training in Las Vegas. The purpose is to be Church together through relationship building between the synod office and our congregations, between neighboring congregations and within congregations.  

I thank 2019 outgoing council members, Jerry Zaddack, Rev. Mateo Chavez, Wes Hewitt, Rev. Jennifer Zahnow, Marissa Metevelis, Mark Myers and Keri Ann Triunfo for your dedication, sacrifices and willingness to serve the Grand Canyon Synod. I appreciate each of you and wish you well.

I am looking forward to the many new opportunities and challenges that lay before us during these changing times.  By God’s good graces we will work in love and cooperation transitioning the Grand Canyon Synod into one church, together.

—Paul Gryniewicz
Vice President, Grand Canyon Synod Council

Rev. Miguel Gomez-Acosta

Rev. Miguel Gomez-Acosta

2019 Director for Evangelical Mission Report to the Grand Canyon Synod Assembly

Grace and peace to you from our risen savior Jesus Christ! Amen.

(View as PDF) What an amazing year this has been. Here are some highlights of our work:

  • The Grand Canyon Synod hosted a Congregational Vitality Training Conference in Las Vegas in collaboration with the Domestic Mission Unit of the ELCA. Over 300 new mission developers from all over the country were trained for mission. 

  • We performed three Synodically Authorized Worshipping Communities ministry reviews.

  • Established a network of coaches for the Grand Canyon Synod. Today we have five trained coaches within the network ready to help pastors and congregations.

  • We helped develop a Coaching curriculum for Spanish speakers through my participation in the ELCA Churchwide’s Latino Coaching team. Now this curriculum is available for use all over the country and Latin American countries.

  • We were in over 25 congregations for various consultations and preaching about Mission or Stewardship.

  • We started one SAWC Exploration and one SAWC within Spanish speaking communities since our last Synod Assembly.    

This was a busy year and again I am thankful for the privilege of being the Director for Evangelical Mission for the Grand Canyon Synod. Many thanks for the tireless hours of work and planning to the members of the New and Renewing Table and the Stewardship Table. Here are your table members:

New and Renewing: Pr. Charles Newman (co-chair), Pr. Sarah Stadler (co-chair), VP Paul Gryniewicz, Pr. Jason Adams, Don Stevens, and Deacon Janice Zimbelman.

Stewardship: Janis Richert (chair), Linda Staats, Duane Gilson.

As we look to the upcoming year I believe it will be essential for us to focus on three areas. First, we need to be intentional and creative when it comes to reaching youth and young adults. If we are to have a future as a church it is imperative that we take this group seriously and when possible, resource congregations that have the passion for these groups to do it effectively. If we work together, we can make a difference.

Second, I believe that we need to strengthen and grow our coaching network. Like I mentioned before we now have five trained coaches, including an ICF Associate Certified Coach. Yet, even though we have this wonderful resource within the synod it is underutilized. I truly believe that if more pastors and congregations used the coaching network it could make a difference in our synod in the areas of mission and stewardship. I have witnessed this in synods that have a healthy coaching culture. 

Finally, with the dwindling mission dollars from both Churchwide and the Synod, if is essential that we are creative about how we start new ministries. We need to work together as people of God to respond to the Missio Dei. There are a couple of models we have been exploring and will continue to explore as we look for other ways to start missions. The Anchor Church model has been successful in some areas of the country, and I believe it could work here. The Churches Starting Churches model has already had success in this synod in the past and I believe it is still relevant today. Whether it is these two, or any others, we need to be open to what God is doing in our synod.

Thank you all for your prayer and mission support. Together we are better. I look forward to another wonderful year.

 Respectfully submitted,

Rev. Miguel F. Gomez-Acosta

Rev. Jacqueline Pagel

Rev. Jacqueline Pagel

Associate to the Bishop for Candidacy and Faith Formation Report 

(View as PDF) The church is in good hands. Our church is in good hands. Our churches are in good hands. I know because as the Associate to the Bishop for Candidacy and Faith Formation, my most major responsibility is to develop leadership throughout our synod and encourage people to use their gifts for the betterment of our church. We have great people stepping up to take on leadership in our church. 

The first few months of this job have been filled with meetings; meeting people, meeting deadlines, and meeting my own personal expectations to excel. I have been in 10 different churches preaching and introducing myself in this new capacity. I have met with candidates from Vegas, to Flagstaff and all across our Grand Canyon synod, reviewing the guidelines for candidacy and encouraging them along the way to let the process work. I have met with Campformation planners, Lutheran Campus Ministry directors, and the developers of our young adult network. 

So far, the most enjoyable part of my new role is being out in our congregations across the synod, meeting with future pastors and deacons, and to talking with our young people in our congregations and reminding them that God indeed calls all people to do God’s work. 

With the help of our fully formed Candidacy Committee we have met the deadline of getting 6 new people ready for seminary and additional 6 people on track to be in the process to get ready to attend seminary Fall 2020.  Many people are stepping forward from various phases in their lives to take on leadership in our church. We’re in good hands. We have moved from 3 active people in the process for candidacy to 21. People from the first steps of discerning to one candidate we have anxiously awaiting her first call and a newly ordained first call pastor as of April. 

We have implemented process to have two candidacy panels per year accessing up to 10 candidates a session. Our candidacy committee is filled with 10 amazingly capable people ready to walk with candidates through the maze getting to consecration or ordination. The candidacy team is made up of a mixture of five Rostered leaders, a deacon and pastors, and five lay people. Obviously male and female, from all parts of our synod and hopefully reflective of the varied beauty our synod has to offer. The newly formed Candidacy Committee will take a more accompaniment approach to the whole process of candidacy allowing individuals to understand the process better and for them to have successful touchpoints along the way to get the candidates to their goal of consecration or ordination.

My responsibilities with First Call Theological Education (FCTE) continues. Currently as a synod we have 5 people who are within their first 3 years of ministry and must complete the churchwide mandate of FCTE. Pr. Mateo Chavez, Pr. David Sivecz, Pr. Kimberlee Law, Pr. Kathleen Lotz, and Pr. Abel Arroyo – Traverso are our new pastors. Our next event will be in Northern California with Sierra Pacific Synod as host. This event occurs twice yearly rotating between the five synods that make up Region 2. The other A2Bs across Region 2 are a joy to work with and have been invaluable in their support and encouragement of advisement of me to get this job done well.

Soon after this assembly I will head to Campformation this year representing the synod office and being able to remind our Jr. high and high school age youth that there is a place for them in this church and we are glad to have them. This years’ camp will be at Camp Pine Rock in Prescott and our theme is “A Love That Never Ends.” It is a blessing to have a job with the responsibility of encouraging young people to follow their calls and never let their love for God end just as God loves for us is always and forever. 

The synod staff is reading Brene Brown, Dare to Lead. The book is meant to encourage us individually and as a team to grow and stretch our definition of leadership and how we lead. Rumblings with self- trust is my most major take away and hoped for outcome after reading the book. Surely, we can all continue to rumble with self-trust and make this one of the strongest synods of our church filled with leaders from every walk of life ready to communicate, care, and create Jesus love to all. 

Respectfully submitted, 

Rev. Jacqueline Pagel 


Report from Mark Holman, Bishop’s Associate for Mobility and Leadership

Rev. Mark Holman

Rev. Mark Holman

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
— Jeremiah 29:11

(View as PDF) These words of encouragement and hope have often come back to me in these many months through which I have been privileged to serve Bishop Hutterer and the Grand Canyon Synod in the specific areas of mobility for rostered staff and leadership development.

Again and again, I have been inspired by the patient, detailed, and discerning work of those elected to serve on congregation councils and call committees.  I have been heartened by the courage and trust exhibited by pastors as they’ve been discerning the Spirit’s unfolding of new paths of service.  I have been buoyed as congregational leaders have engaged leaders of other congregations for the purpose of exploring – and even collaborating toward - new models of becoming “Church Together.”  And, I have been moved as my GCS colleagues have so tenderly and prayerfully regarded the unique skills and passions of rostered staff who might be open to the Spirit’s urging toward a new call.

Through the past many months, my learning curve has been steep.  Previous experiences in parish ministry, chaplaincy, global missions, network development (for Lutheran Services in America), and interim ministry in several highly conflicted congregations have been drawn upon as I have worked with pastors, members of call committees, and church councils.  

A particular interest of mine is to develop a Interim Pastors’ Network.  Collegial relationships designed for the purposes of support, shared learning, and developing best practices can bring real benefit to pastors and the congregations they serve.  Surely, the transitions from one pastoral leader to another can be fertile holy ground, through which leaders walk together, discerning God’s plan, and the Spirit’s gift of “a future with hope.”

I regret that I am unable to attend this year’s Synod Assembly.  If there is any way I can be engaged in your congregation’s discernment of God’s new plans, don’t hesitate to contact me at, or by phone at 612-214-0392.  

Norine Floyd

Norine Floyd

Director of Administration and Events Report

(View as PDF) I would like to thank the Synod Council for allowing me to serve, first on an interim basis and now as the official Director of Administration and Events.  It is truly a pleasure working with Bishop Hutterer, the Synod Staff and the Synod Council.

These past several months have been a time of transition.  With a complete turnover in the Synod staff, it has been a procedural challenge, but also an opportunity for us to seek new ways of doing things in the synod office.  I have been developing a GCS Operations Manual to help with future transitions or any extended absences of staff members.

I view this position as a facilitator for the Bishop so that she may accomplish her work for the church and as a source of information for congregations, council members and ministry partners.  To this end I try to be respond in a timely manner to everyone’s inquiries and needs.

Maintaining the synod roster of leaders is an important element of the job.  I have updated the records, created a mailing list of our active and retired pastors including pastors who live, but are not rostered in the Grand Canyon Synod.  Brian Flatgard is helping to create a master database of our multiple address lists.  The GCS will be implementing a pilot program for a digital roster in the remaining months of 2019.

I have worked in tandem with Clint Wasser, Director of Finance, to update and streamline our financial record keeping.  We have divided responsibilities with me processing and posting deposits and invoices and Clint handling payroll and all the reporting.  This assures a good system of checks and balances.

The 2019 grant recipients have been notified of their awards and checks are being issued the first month of each fiscal quarter.  A new grant progress report was created, and recipients have been asked to complete these reports by May 31 and Oct 31, 2019.  The grant process will be restructured in the coming months for the 2020 grants.

I would like to thank the members of the Synod Assembly planning team for all their efforts in creating this important event:  Pastor David Brandfass, Pastor David Drach-Meinel, Pastor Stephen Springer, Bishop Deborah Hutterer, Dick Beckman, Brian Flatgard and Paul Gryniewicz.  You are all amazing!  

Future events in the planning stages are the September Synod Council and Deans Retreat which will be a border immersion experience in Southern Arizona/Mexico and the Bishop’s Fall Convocation to be held in October.  

Again, thank you for the opportunity to serve the Grand Canyon Synod and the greater church in this capacity.

Respectfully submitted,

Norine Floyd
Director of Administration and Events

Brian Flatgard

Brian Flatgard

Director of Communications report

(View as PDF) I was blessed to join the Office of the Bishop in late 2018. What started as informal, monthly advisory breakfasts with Bishop Hutterer grew into a position as Director of Communications. It has been a life-changing journey, and I am deeply grateful.

My vision for this year is to create a website and news platform trusted by synod staff and congregations to house our information and enable our theme of communicate, connect, and create.

Building a new communications system from scratch is very exciting and rewarding. We upgraded our web site with a new and fresh look. We brought our email newsletter creation in-house, streamlined its production and ramped it up from a monthly to weekly schedule. 

We are daily broadcasting information, simultaneously on our site blog and our social media, and compiling that news in the weekly email newsletter.

For the assembly, we put registration, payment, and data collection directly onto our site, and created our own system to distribute assembly information rather than Guidebook.

Our web site traffic is increasing and approaching 2,000 unique visitors per month. We highlight dozens of content items every week. Our weekly newsletter is sent to a growing subscriber base of 1,100, with a goal to reach 10,000 subscribers by year’s end. 

Looking to next year, I will continually refine an efficient system where we can broadcast across multiple platforms: the synod site, social media, and email. My hope is that we can reach synod members on all their preferred platforms.

There is so much to share: from the very local (a congregation donating their choir risers); to the global (the ELCA’s response to U.S. flooding and Cyclone Idai); from the mundane and bureaucratic (how to submit expense reports); to the extraordinary news of Christ’s love.

I want to encourage you to send us your news by emailing me,, or using the news submission page on our website at I also want to know what we can do to communicate more effectively. 

The Office of the Bishop takes the responsibility to be transparent, inviting and informative very seriously. As an entire synod, we will create new ways of being church together only if we share a common vision and trust, which we achieve by communication.


Brian Flatgard