May 21, 2019
Ecumenical Advocacy Days: Troubling the Waters for the Healing of the World
 submitted by Deacon Aura Suárez 

I was invited by Jennifer de Leon, Director for Justice from the Women of the ELCA (WELCA), to attend ECUMENICAL ADVOCACY DAYS in Washington DC, the first week of April. This is a chance for people from various denominations to come together for learning and advocacy in our nation’s capital. This year’s theme was TROUBLING THE WATERS FOR THE HEALING OF OUR WORLD, based on John 5:1-9 where Jesus went to Jerusalem and visited a pool named Bethsaida. Many people visited this pool looking for healing because it was believed that when the water was troubled, people that hurried into the water became healed. I felt agitated, inspired and challenged by this Bible passage to become more aware of the importance as children of God to create action in our communities of faith. Not only “splashing the waters” as charity vessels, but also “troubling the waters”—advocating, not conforming to patterns of oppression and injustice, attacking the root of social issues and demanding real changes in systems of oppression in our communities.

It was so refreshing to see people from different denominations united by the love of God and working together for the healing of the world. Rev. Russell Meyer, Director for Florida Council of Churches, was also a participant. Together we went to the office of FL Congresswoman Katherine Castor from Tampa, and with others from Florida we visited the offices of Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to ask them to support the Voting Rights Act and the Fragility Act. It was an empowering and uplifting experience. 
Hurricane Michael Relief Efforts Continue

Putting our faith in action sometimes requires us to step outside our comfort zone. As the people in the Panhandle work tirelessly to rebuild after the devastation of the Category 5 Hurricane Michael, Tallahassee and Washington are slow to respond. As people of faith, we need to come to the aid of our neighbor. Please call your state legislator (and your US Congressperson or Senator) and urge them to continue to act with the relief needed to help these residents. You may also continue to support the relief efforts through contributions to the Florida-Bahamas Synod Disaster Response Fund (click on 'give now' and then select 'disaster response' or enter 'Hurricane Michael' in the 'other' column), and through ELCA's Lutheran Disaster Response funds. The video below from the city of Panama City gives more statistics and specific information about the devastation, damage, and ongoing need for relief and response.
 
Synod Youth Ministry Visioning Task Force
Children and youth ministry is one of the many aspects of shared ministry that benefits from intentional reflection, planning and prayerful discernment. Bishop Suarez is putting together a task force of people interested in having some focused conversation regarding the future vision for synodical youth ministry. This task force will gather in various ways (electronically, mostly) over the next several months, working with and listening to many voices to discuss the challenges and opportunities for synodical children/youth/family ministry. If you would like to be considered for this task force, please contact Ileana Sardinas (Ileanas@fbsynod.org) by June 1. Bishop Suarez will be inviting people to serve on this task force.
Resource Swap at Synod Assembly
This year instead of displaying new resources, the Synod Resource Center is hosting a Resource Swap. If you have curriculum that is in good condition but is no longer being used, or other books, DVDs, and resources that are in good condition and no longer being used, bring them to the Connections Cafe and add them to the Resource Center table. Resources in the resource swap are free to who wants them. Those who bring resources for the swap are responsible to collect any remaining resources at the end of Assembly. Any unclaimed resources will be thrown away. Please note--resources for the resource swap should be in decent, usable condition. If you have questions about the materials available in the Resource Center, please contact Michelle Collins (michellec@fbsynod.org). 
Mark your Calendar
Click on the calendar to go to the synod calendar to learn more about these events
For Your Information
Get Ready for Synod Assembly:

Fellowship and Fun
Opportunities for fun and fellowship at Assembly will include:

  • Evening Manager's reception each day at 5:30
  • Extended time for lunch on Friday
  • "Drinks and Snacks with Bishop and Friends"--a reception with drinks and snacks provided by NovusWay and the ELCA Foundation, Friday evening, 8:30
  • Hotel restaurant, bar, and pool
  • Plenty of surrounding restaurants

A note about parking: When you arrive at the Embassy….go ahead and stop at the gate and get a parking ticket. Park your car and bring the ticket to the hotel registration desk.

When you check in, the hotel staff will give you a gate pass….the parking fee has been taken care of for you 
Different Way to Access Guidebook Material for Assembly This Year
It will be helpful to make sure you can access the guidebook materials before arriving at Assembly. This year, rather than accessing the assembly materials through the Guidebook app, you will need to access them through the ELCA Organization and Events App . On your mobile device, go to the Google Play store or the Apple store and search for the ELCA Organization and Events App. Download it. Then you can search for the "2019 Florida-Bahamas Synod Assembly" guide and download the material. Please help the voting members from your congregation make sure they can access the material before arriving at Assembly. Please note that this app is NOT available on laptop computers, and the guidebook material can only be accessed through an Android or Apple mobile device. We will have extra volunteers ready to help with guidebook and technology glitches. If you know you prefer paper material for worship, please plan ahead and print out the worship bulletins (which will be available June 1).
Stewardship for All Seasons
This is a portion of an earlier announcement sent out on May 1. Click here to view the whole original message.

We have started our  second round  of Stewardship for All Seasons in Florida with the Synod setting aside $40,000 for first and second-year participants. Currently, the average increase in giving is 10-20%. Every church that has been involved has seen results over and well-above the initial investment cost of the program. Churches that currently have solid giving will see increased giving. Churches that struggle with giving, cannot afford to miss participating in this program.

We welcome you to join us in our learning journey with Stewardship for All Seasons. To join, or learn more, please review the provided flyer To apply for a $2000 grant towards this program, please fill out the covenant and grant application then email it to tom.f.oreilly@gmail.com by May 24, 2019.
Thank You for Your Reports!

The synod office received parochial reports from 93% of congregations in the synod this year! Thank you for your faithfulness in sharing about your ministry and context! The information from parochial reports is instrumental in strengthening our ministry together. These reports give us data, information, and narrative that helps us understand the joys and challenges being experienced by congregations, which helps us better inform our ministry initiatives and priorities. THANK YOU!
Bishop's Calendar
  • Synod Office (Assembly Prep)