April 7, 2020
An Important Message from our Bishop

During these new and frustrating times, I implore you to please use common sense. I interpret the ordinance that the governor has approved regarding Houses of Faith being considered “essential” to mean that a few members of staff can use their buildings for meetings with less than 10 people. This includes emergency council meetings and recording worship, all while keeping “social distance” of no less than 6 feet. The more that can be done from home, the better. I encourage you to please, stay at home! Only a few that must take the risk should do it. I continue to strongly recommend not to hold worship in any church building (except for streaming the service). 

Secondly, my strong recommendation as your Bishop is to NOT do Holy Communion, but instead a Spiritual Communion (See St. Thomas of Aquinas). I know this may seem too “Catholic” for some, but it is the safest and better theology.

If we say we are church together and we are doing our own thing, what are we telling people? There are theological, ecumenical, and even financial complications of doing communion your way. I support Bishop Elizabeth Eaton in her recommendation of abstaining from Communion. This is not a situation without hope, and while we keep safe at home, it is not extreme. This will pass.

The proclamation of the Gospel is one of the Means of Grace that is completely able to transmit hope, calm, trust, healing, and salvation. I am sharing this with you for your pondering, consideration, and action. I am not seeking argumentative responses. Although some of you may not agree with me, I respect all of you and I know this is not an easy road to walk.

Dear gracious and loving God,
Continue to be with each one of my colleagues and lay leaders as they serve your people. Give us all wisdom to make good decisions, protection for this Coronavirus, and strength to face what is coming our way. Heal those that are ill, strengthen the most vulnerable, and comfort those who mourn. We place ourselves again into your hands, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and (+) of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

+ Bp. Pedro

Rev. Pedro Suarez, Bishop
Florida-Bahamas Synod, ELCA

God's Work our Hands Continues in Jacksonville

In January we received this story about St. Matthew in Jacksonville, FL. We are happy to be able to bring a little good news to everyone amid our trying times.

St. Matthew may be a smaller congregation than we once were, but that does not stop our heartfelt efforts to do God's work with our hands. In September, we participated in the synod-wide celebration by collecting school supplies and hygiene products for the Children's Home Society of Jacksonville.

This picture illustrates another "God's Work Our Hands" Sunday for our congregation that was held in November.
This time, we collected items for the girls at the Pace Center for Girls in Jacksonville. This program works with girls aged 12-17 to keep the at-risk youth from entering the juvenile justice system. 

At-risk factors are issues such as: foster home placement, substance abuse (by a girl or family member), domestic violence, incarceration of a family member, neglect, physical/emotional/sexual abuse, grief, emotional health concerns, low income, and more.

St. Matthew's provided items such as crafts, jewelry and bath supplies to all the girls. Pace was delighted with our donations and the girls were overwhelmed and elated. We also provided those in need with socks that have been donated by the sock company - Bombas. This company donates one pair of socks for every pair they sell. In fact, St. Matthews picked up 6,000 pairs of donated socks, transporting them from Savannah, GA to be used for the needy in our local Jacksonville area. We continue to distribute these socks to rescue missions in Jacksonville and to the homeless in need on the street
Meet our New
Communications Specialist
Following the departure of Sister Michelle Collins, the Florida-Bahamas Synod has brought Marina Ernst aboard as our new Communications Specialist. Marina was previously the Communications & Marketing Specialist at Hope in The Villages.

As part of her position, Marina will begin creating our E-Spirit newsletter and managing our website, in addition to coordinating other aspects of our communication plan.

If you would like an article or topic to be featured in E-Spirit or on our website, please email Marina at MarinaE@FBSynod.org.

  • Flip-Flops
  • Yoga Pants/Sweat Pants (all sizes)
  • Socks & Underwear (new, all sizes women and children)

Heart of Florida, Gulf Coast, Miami-Dade, & Tradewinds
New Safe Home

  • Towels (new)
  • Hand Towels/Wash Cloths
  • Hand & Dish Soap; Lysol Wipes

Caloosa, First Coast, Flagler/Volusia & Sun Coast
Baby Needs

  • Formula
  • Pull-Ups & Diapers (size 4 and up)
  • Baby Wipes

Lake, Pinelands, Space Coast & Tampa
Personal Care

  • Maxi-Pads/Tampons
  • Deodorant; toothpaste/toothbrushes
  • Shampoo/Conditioner - full sizes

ELCA is a Census 2020 Partner
Funding for over 100 federal programs, many of which combat poverty and hunger and support people in need, are distributed based on population. ELCA is a Census 2020 partner, encouraging an accurate count that impacts more just resource distribution and representation in the political process, as census data determines electoral maps. For your neighbor and yourself – encourage your community to be counted! Start Here

Synod Assembly 2020
June 5-7

Registration is open .

For more information check out our website or
Mark your Calendar
Click on the calendar to go to the synod calendar to learn more about these events
For Your Information
Send Us Your Feel-Good Stories

During these difficult times, we're looking for uplifting stories from your congregation to encourage others throughout our Synod.

Has your church expanded a mission to serve your community from a distance? Have you found a way to continue serving your neighbors through your food pantry or outreach ministry? Are you connecting with your congregation in new and exciting ways? We want to hear from you!

Share your stories with our Synod by emailing them to MarinaE@FBSynod.org.
April Update from Portico Benefit Services

People of God, these are interesting times to be in ministry. As you master many new skills and carry concerns about your people, your church’s finances, and your own family, please know that Portico is here to walk with you. Portico plan members, sign in to myPortico for these timely resources:
A new  hub on myPortico details financial and health resources specifically related to COVID-19, including:
·       updates on how the CARES Act can provide financial relief for congregations
·       telemedicine and emotional health support options for ELCA-Primary and ELCA Medicare-Primary plan members
·       answers about managing or adjusting flexible spending accounts
·       financial resources from the ELCA Retirement Plan Recordkeeping Services Provider, Fidelity

This   16-minute video(filmed March 26) offers:
·       perspective on the investment markets and how we navigate volatility
·       ways to remain emotionally grounded as retirement account balances fluctuate
·       resources Portico offers to help you through these uncertain times
*Communicator note: if you prefer to print out web links, please use these:

Bishop's Calendar

  • Home Office
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