Bishop's Letter regarding Trustworthy Servants of the People of God document

Dear Church: 

This past weekend the ELCA Church Council met in Chicago. They decided not to consider for adoption a document entitled, “Trustworthy Servants of the People of God,” which had been recommended to them by the Conference of Bishops. Instead, they chose to refer this document back to the Domestic Mission Unit of the Churchwide office for further work and redrafting in alignment with the social teachings of the ELCA. In addition, the Church Council asked that a process be used by Domestic Mission which intentionally includes more diverse voices, especially those who perceive they were most harmed by the misuse of the current document, Vision and Expectations in the past. They have asked that work be completed by the fall of 2020. 

I quote a part of the letter written by Bishop Patricia Lull to the Saint Paul Area Synod: 

Some of you will be pleased by the decision to open up the drafting process to more voices. Others of you may be disappointed that a better document has not yet been adopted. A lot of you will wonder what this even is. So, we ask Martin Luther’s question – What does this mean? 

Like all church bodies, including its predecessor bodies, the ELCA has always had clearly stated expectations for pastors and deacons. These are found in the ELCA constitution, the services of ordination and consecration, in the document entitled Vision and Expectations and in a companion document, Guidelines and Definitions for Discipline. I particularly encourage lay leaders to read what is currently expected in the preaching, teaching, pastoral care, and service of those you have called to lead your congregation, as well as the expectations for their personal integrity. 

While I am only in my 8th month as your bishop, I can safely say there is a commitment for all ministry sites to be safe places where the gospel is proclaimed. I would pray for respectful conversation and inclusion of all voices. For now, Vision and Expectations remains as the statement of those basic standards. 

The Grand Canyon Synod Council will present a mission that we hope will be adopted at Synod Assembly: Communicate Jesus. Connect people. Create possibilities. This mission means that people of every background, race, sexual orientation and gender identity are welcome to engage fully in the life of the church. In the ELCA we affirm that Jesus loves everyone. No exceptions. Jesus calls everyone into a life of discipleship. No exceptions. 

If you wonder about your place in this church. You are welcome. 

If you wonder if you are being called as a rostered leader, reach out and let me know. There is a process where you can ask and wrestle with those questions in community as you discern where the Holy Spirit is leading you. 

As we enter into Holy Week and prepare for Easter, let us pray for those who have been hurt or disenfranchised by the church, as well as for those who yearn to know—you are welcome and loved for who you are. 

And, may you, faithful leaders, hear and claim the mystery of faith: Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. 


The Rev. Deborah K. Hutterer
Grand Canyon Synod of the ELCA