Jan. 21, 2020
Living at Taize and Reflecting on Climate Change, part 2
Contributed by Stephen Bryant. This is part 2 of a 2-part reflection on Stephen's experience at Taize and reflecting on climate change.

Spending a week at Taize offered me many opportunities to engage with people from various walks of life and from many different congregations. An example of one of these opportunities was being invited to be a part of the community at St. Philip Lutheran Church in Mt. Dora. I had the amazing experience of worshiping with this congregation and being able to share with them about the time I spent living in the Taize community.

My relationship with St. Philip began with them pledging to support me on my trip to Taize, even though I was living in Rwanda as a YAGM at the time when I was making my plans, and they hadn’t met me before. But they are a congregation committed to stewardship of creation and ecological justice, and were willing to support a young adult’s voice in that conversation. We were not able to meet until the Sunday I spent with them several weeks after I returned from France. Being able to share stories and to discuss topics directly relating to climate change, as well as wrestle with what it means to welcome the stranger, was truly life giving. 

Presiding Bishop Eaton Visits Ft. Myers
submitted by Pr. Walter Still

The community was greatly blessed by ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s presence and remarks at Temple Beth El, Ft Myers at the January 3, 2020 Shabbat service. Bp Eaton reinforced the ELCA’s 1994 “Declaration of the ELCA to the Jewish Community” and solidarity following the recent anti-Semitic incidents. Rabbi Nicole Luna expressed deep appreciation for Bp Eaton’s work. Local ELCA clergy and spouses, who support local inter-faith initiatives also expressed solidarity: Pr Gary and Christina LaCroix, Pr Rusty and PJ May, Pr Jennifer Kopacz and Pr Walter Still and Elizabeth Spang.
Get on Board for the Bahamas
As disaster response continues in the Bahamas, we are continuing plans to host individuals and groups who have expressed a desire to volunteer and participate in restoration and recovery in various ways. To better support visitors and volunteers, we are looking to purchase or receive a 15-passenger van for the Florida-Bahamas Synod Disaster Response in the Bahamas. We are learning that it is expensive to rent vehicles each time our staff or pastors visit, and a van would better help us transport people and supplies around the island.  

If you have connections that could lead to a donation of a new or used vehicle, or donation of funds towards a vehicle for the Bahamas, please contact Florida-Bahamas Synod Disaster Response Coordinator, Mr. Jim Habermehl (jimh@fbsynod.org or 804-926-4129) . You can send donations towards the Bahamas Vehicle Fund to the Florida-Bahamas Synod office at 3838 W. Cypress St, Tampa, FL 33607 with “Bahamas Vehicle” in the memo line.
Chrism Mass and Bishop's Visits

For the past several years, the bishop has combined a series of visits during Lent with a Chrism mass to create what we’ve called “Lenten Visits.” The purpose of these visits was for the bishop to facilitate some focused discussion throughout the synod on various ministry topics, to invite rostered ministers and others to be part of a worship service fashioned after the Chrism mass which included consecration of oil for pastoral visits and affirmation of call to public ministry, and to create specific opportunities for intentional listening and sharing between the Bishop and congregational members. These visits have been an important part of the ministry of the Office of the Bishop in providing a learning and worship opportunity outside of Synod Assembly and Conference on Ministry.

This year, Bishop Suarez is going to experiment with a different way to achieve these goals: provide a chrism mass for rostered ministers to receive consecrated oil, create a series of visits throughout the synod to expand contact and connection with the bishop, and facilitate intentional conversation throughout the synod on ministry topics relevant to missional priorities.

For this year, we will be hosting ONE CHRISM MASS worship service at St. John Lutheran Church, Winter Park, on April 7 from 11-2 pm . This is the Tuesday of Holy Week, which is the traditional day for the Chrism Mass. This event will include a time of learning over lunch, followed by a Chrism Mass service. The worship service will be livestreamed for those not able to be present. Oil for pastoral care visits will be consecrated and distributed at this service, and will be available at Assembly and other events throughout the year for those not able to be present. Rostered ministers will be invited to re-affirm their ordination promises.

Separate from the Chrism Mass , Bishop Suarez will host 5 Bishop's Visits throughout the synod. Some of these visits will be during Lent, but not all of them. These visits will include a time of learning and dialogue with Bishop Suarez and a worship service. The Bishop's visits events will run from 9:00 to 12:30. The dates/locations for these visits are:

Saturday, Feb. 15: Living Lord, Bradenton
Saturday, April 25: location TBD (Tampa/Palm Harbor area)
Saturday, May 9: University, Gainesville
Saturday, September 26: Lord of Life, Miami
Saturday, Oct. 10: location TBD (Space Coast area)

More information about the Chrism Mass and the Bishop's Visits will be coming soon . Mark your calendars to join Bishop Suarez and synod staff at these events this year.
Mark your Calendar
Click on the calendar to go to the synod calendar to learn more about these events
For Your Information
Bishop Eaton issues pastoral message on death of Herbert Chilstrom
Dear Church,
With sadness I bring you the news that Presiding Bishop Emeritus Herbert W. Chilstrom died at home early this morning. His wife, Pastor Corinne Chilstrom; his son, Chris Holt; and family were with him.
Bishop Chilstrom was the first presiding bishop of the ELCA. Many of you knew him in those early days when the ELCA was just getting started – there was no furniture at the Lutheran Center, files were in boxes, phones were on the floor, and the skeleton staff worked on card tables and folding chairs. Read the rest of this notice...

Mission Support Covenant Forms Available
The 2020 Mission Support forms are available on the synod web site. These forms help the synod office plan well for ministry priorities and programming for the next year.

>>> Click HERE to submit the form online<<<
>>> Click HERE to access the forms to download and print<<<
Parochial Reports Available on ELCA Web Site
 Forms A and C that make up the required, annual parochial report, ARE NOW available to fill out and complete, on the ELCA website . Each congregation needs to have its own church ID and password. The passwords for 2019 were recently sent to each congregation. The passwords are also available from the synod office.

***shout out to Hope, St. Petersburg--for being the first congregation to submit a parochial report! Thank you, Hope, St. Pete!***
Annual Report Covers
The 2019 Annual Report Covers from the ELCA are available on the synod web site (on the Forms page) and also on the ELCA web site (on the Stewardship page). These covers include a brief litany to open congregational meetings and a brief message from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.
Rostered Ministers Reports Submitted to the Bishop

Rostered Ministers, please submit your annual rostered minister report to the Bishop by March 15th. Reports are available on the ELCA web site and can be saved and sent to Ileana Sardinas (ileanas@fbsynod.org).
Renovation/Re-imagination of Synod Resource Center
With the change in how congregations seek out, find, and use resources (books, curriculum, study material, etc), and with changes in how Augsburg Fortress is developing and sharing material, the synod staff are doing some intentional reflection on the value of the synod resource center as a 'lending library' of print material. Over the next several months, materials will be reviewed for relevance and connection to ministry priorities. Curriculum and resources that have not been checked out or used for the last 3 years will be removed. This evaluation and 'weeding out' of resources is the first phase of re-imagining the best way to offer resources to congregations and leaders.

How does this affect you?
  1. If you have borrowed materials from the synod resource center and are finished using them, please return them to the synod office. If you are still using them, please email Sr. Michelle (michellec@fbsynod.org) to let her know the materials are useful.
  2. You may browse the material currently in the resource center online catalog from the web site. If there are materials you are specifically interested in the resource center holding onto, let Sr. Michelle know by Jan. 31.
  3. From Feb. 1-March 1, pastors and congregational leaders who are visiting the synod office may browse the material in the resource center and request materials that are relevant to their ministry needs.
  4. Resources and materials will be available at this year's Synod Assembly as part of a 'resource swap,' where congregations are invited to bring unwanted materials to share with others who may be looking for curriculum and materials. More information about this resource swap will be in the synod assembly information.
Bishop's Calendar
  • Synod Office
  • Holy Land Trip w/ELCA new Bishops
  • Houston (ordination of Kari Neidermaier)
  • Holy Trinity, Ft. Walton Beach (installation of Pr. Tim Johnston)
  • St. Paul, Niceville
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