25th Assembly Highlights

May 18-20, 2012
San Jose Marriott Hotel/McEnery Convention Center
San Jose, CA


The Sierra Pacific Synod met in Assembly under the theme “For the Love of God: Caring for Creation” (Revelation 22:1-3a) with 549 in attendance. Of those present, 443 were voting members. Seventy-eight were first time attendees and 21 were under 30 years of age. Closed captioning was available for those with impaired hearing, as well as English to Spanish translation services. Assembly chaplains were Pr. Susan Birkelo and Intern Eduardo Trejo, Lutheran Community, Watsonville.

Dr. Larry Rasmussen, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, New York City, brought two Bible Study sessions to the Assembly. Keynote addresses were presented by The Reverend Canon Sally Grover Bingham, a priest in the Diocese of California, co-chair of the Episcopal Diocesan Commission for the Environment, and founder and president of The Regeneration Project. The Rev. Craig Settlage, Director for Mission Support, ELCA brought the report of the ELCA and Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, and the Rev. Elizabeth Ekdale, St. Mark’s, San Francisco and member of the ELCA Church Council, brought greetings and shared the work of the Council.

Four congregations were received into the Sierra Pacific Synod, ELCA: Christ Oromo, San Lorenzo; Pueblo de Dios, San Jose; Miracles of Faith, Oakland; and Good Shepherd, Gilroy (formerly Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod).

An Assembly Banquet on Friday evening celebrated the significant anniversaries of congregations and rostered leaders, with those pastors celebrating their 50th Anniversary of Ordination invited to speak to the gathering. A special tribute was offered for LCA Bishop Emeritus Stan Olson for 60 years of ordained ministry. Additionally, the Rev. Harvey Blomberg was honored on the occasion of his retirement from his position as Director for Evangelical Mission.

Resolution 2012-1 Recognition of the Lutheran Association of Christian Educators (LACE)
(which recognizes LACE as a partner in the ministry of Christian Education and encourages congregations to join LACE)
Resolution 2012-2 In Support of the ‘Remember Them’ Monument (which resolved that the Assembly affirm the Synod Council decision to become an “affiliated organization” with the “Remember Them: Champions for Humanity” Project, and encourages congregations to visit and support this project)
Resolution 2012-3 In Support of the ELCA Malaria Campaign (which asks the congregations of the Synod to commit to the work of the this campaign)
Resolution 2012-4 Regarding Sierra Pacific Synod Compensation Guidelines (which resolved that the appropriate baseline compensation for full-time pastoral leaders in the Sierra Pacific Synod be continued at $48,000 for the period July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013)
Resolution 2012-5 Witnessing Against Capital Punishment (which asks the Assembly and congregations of the Synod to advocate for the replacement of the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole in the states of California and Nevada and that the same be memorialized to the 2013 Churchwide Assembly for the 32 states that have the death penalty)
Resolution 2012-7 In Support of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and California Lutheran University (which commends the boards and presidents of the two institution for their work in combining PLTS and CLU into a singular entity and prayerfully support all during the final steps of discernment and merger)

Resolution 2012-6 Divesting from Large Financial Institutions (which asked for the divesting of funds from numerous large financial institutions and their subsidiaries)

Synod Secretary – Dennis Jones, St. John’s, Sacramento was elected to a four year term.
Synod Council members elected include Sue Hertless, District A; Pr. Carl Wilfrid, District B; Joseph Husary, District C; Gisela Daetz, District D; Pr. Sarah Meckler, District E; Pr. Adisa Armand Miller, At-Large.
Churchwide Assembly Voting Members –
District A: Pr. Kathryn Gulbranson, Molly Calhoun, Jeff Reinders; District B: Pr. Jason Bense, Mariah Spring Seitzinger, Paul Larson; District C: Pr.Linda Boston, Amanda Briggs, Dale Loepp; District D: Pr. Anita Warner, Stephanie Leong, Joseph Haletky; District E: Pr. Jim Goldsmith, Sharon Seegmiller, Merle Hanson. A method for selecting eleven voting members from among these fifteen will be determined by the Synod Council at its June meeting.
Those elected to serve in these offices were installed at the Closing Worship Service. Additionally, Pastors Jose Luis La Torre Cuadros and Katy Grindberg were installed into their positions as Assistants to the Bishop.

• The Assembly also adopted a 2013-14 Council recommended Budget which showed anticipated total income of $2,017,000 with expected expenses totaling $2,611,183. The Assembly met as a “Quasi Committee of the Whole” for discussions of the budget before convening in regular session for consideration and passage of the budget.
• Approved changes to the Synod By-Laws SB10.01.01through SB10.01.05, and SB 12.01.01 moving them into Continuing Resolutions. These sections of the Constitution and By-Laws relate to the geographical structure of the Synod’s conferences and districts. This change allows for the Council to reorganize these entities as needed based upon numbers of congregations in various areas of the Synod.
• Approved changes to the Synod Constitution which reflect the changes made to the Model Constitution for Synods at the 2011 Churchwide Assembly. One of the changes approved was the option to have the Synod Council appoint the position of Synod Treasurer.
• Approved the change to SB9.01.01 to allow for the Synod Vice-President to attend Churchwide Assemblies automatically as a voting member.
• Fuad Nijim shared an Issue of Conscience pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
There was morning worship in the chapel each day. The Rev. Nancy F. Nelson preached and the Rev. Katy Grindberg presided at the Friday afternoon Opening Worship. Service of the Word was held on Saturday prior to the lunch break. The Rev. Robyn Hartwig (EcoFaith recovery) preached and Bp. Holmerud presided at the Closing Worship Sunday morning.