Click the image above to watch the Bishop's update on YouTube!
Greetings in Christ, my dear siblings in the Florida-Bahamas Synod of the ELCA. Thank you for spending a few minutes with me as I update you on our synod's status. First, I want to start by addressing some of the concerns that have arisen in recent weeks.

We are aware of increased break-ins at our church properties. Unfortunately, thieves have targeted church buildings, knowing that they are closed due to COVID-19. We are working with law enforcement to protect our properties. In the meantime, please make sure security cameras are functioning and checked regularly. Just having signs on the property may be enough to scare burglars, though please make sure they are not unwelcome signs, as “No Trespassing” signs are not fitting for church property. Please report any suspicious individuals on your property, and please be mindful of items left outside.

Also, we know that our congregations are eager to get back to worshipping in person. However, please know that reopening your church too early could result in lawsuits if a congregation member were to get sick. Insurance may not cover your liability if you open against the official recommendations. Most insurance carriers are not even covering against viruses. For the safety of everyone, please do not rush to reopen until local authorities have guaranteed that it is safe to do so.

Next, I want to update you on some happenings in our Synod...


+ Bp. Pedro
Rev. Pedro Suarez, Bishop
Florida-Bahamas Synod, ELCA
Resources for Returning to Worship
Bishop Suarez has prepared a comprehensive list of resources and recommendations for congregations preparing to return to worship after the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed.

Your Gifts Make A Difference!
Please join the effort to support our communities, our congregations, and the Synod!

Our churches are continuing to share the Gospel despite the struggles of COVID-19. Most churches have developed systems for online worship. This week, the Office of the Bishop heard an excellent story from St. John Lutheran in Winter Park, where their pastor has created a digital Bible study called "Coffee Time with Pastor Tom".

We've also heard stories from many Food Pantries throughout our Synod, where generous congregation members have found ways to support the needs of the community while maintaining proper social distance.

Please continue to support your churches and your Synod. Give now to the United As One Special Appeal, so that together, we can continue to uplift our church and share the Good News no matter what obstacles we face.

All gifts are appreciated!
Messages From ELCA Presiding Bishop Eaton
United.  In a time of physical distancing due to the coronavirus, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton reminds us that we aren’t islands—we are united in baptism.

In her May column, she writes: “We don’t have to go it alone. In fact, we cannot, because, in Christ, we are knit into one body. And just as surely as Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one—this wildly mysterious community of the Trinity—so are we one.”
 
This column is from the May edition of Living Lutheran. Read her entire column in English HERE  and  in Spanish HERE .
The ELCA Wants to Hear from You!

The ELCA is preparing a social message on government and civic engagement. Until May 27, ELCA members are invited to provide feedback on a draft of the message. This writing project was requested by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly and authorized in November 2019 by the ELCA Church Council [CC19.11.47w]. It will be considered for adoption at a June meeting of the council.

Get Involved in Candidacy
Our Candidacy Committee is Seeking New Members!

Are you looking for a rewarding new way to get involved in ministry? We are currently seeking nominations of lay females who evidence a strong faith, worship faithfully, are active in the life of their congregation, have a positive and enthusiastic spirit, a commitment to follow through, and would like to be a part of the formation and education of future pastors and ELCA deacons.

New Opportunities!
Are you ready to join the Florida-Bahamas Synod Staff?

Our Synod is now hiring a full-time Administrative Assistant for Leadership . The person filling this position coordinates the Call and the Candidacy processes for Rostered positions, coordinates Committee meetings, maintains mobility and transitions files, and assists with events as needed.

For a full job description, please click here to visit our website.
Search for Global Mission Table Chairperson
Florida-Bahamas Synod 

Are you an ELCA member interested in Global Mission work? Do you have a passion for exploring other cultures and discovering the Gospel in other contexts?

The Florida-Bahamas Synod is seeking a person to chair the Global Mission Table! The work of the Global Mission Table (GMT) is to foster growth and deepen relationships with our Companion Churches in other countries. The GMT Chairperson will be responsible for overseeing the GMT, increasing awareness of Global Mission, and deepening our relationships with our companion churches.

The ideal candidate will have strong multi-tasking skills, a love of travel, the ability to delegate tasks, and the ability to learn and respect different cultural customs and traditions. You must be healthy enough to travel overseas and must possess a valid passport. Bilingual skills are a plus!

The Global Mission Table Chairperson will need to commit approximately 10-40 hours per month to the position. This time will vary depending on upcoming events and seasons. Most work will be completed at home, with occasional foreign travel. 


Ready to apply? Email your resume to Pr. Khader El-Yateem - Assistant to the Bishop at  khadere@fbsynod.org . Be sure to tell us why you’re passionate about promoting Global Mission!
What's New?
Support for Our Clergy

“We’ve never been here before.” We’ve all thought this in past weeks. You may be wondering if this is a new normal, or a time of “wilderness wandering.”

To support those who lead our churches during COVID-19, Rev. Dr. Rick Armstrong will offer a 3 week virtual group to explore issues you are facing.

You can choose to attend one or more of the following sessions:
  • May 12, 2020 at 1:00 PM
  • May 13, 2020 at 1:00 PM
  • May 19, 2020 at 1:00 PM
  • May 20, 2020 at 1:00 PM
  • May 26, 2020 at 1:00 PM
  • May 27, 2020 at 1:00 PM
Register online HERE.
Walk in the Footsteps of Paul in Greece and Turkey (including a Greek Isles Cruise)!
September 13-23
Join ALOA (Adult Lutherans Organized for Action) and George Algozzina for this amazing opportunity!
Embark upon our journey to the land of ancient treasures and Christian history, as we walk in the Footsteps of Paul. 

Experience the famous cities and coasts that shaped Paul’s ministry. You’ll arrive in Thessaloniki and spend the first leg of your journey exploring Philippi and Athens.
Then, depart from Athens on a 3-night Mediterranean cruise, including stops in Mykonos, Kusadasi (including a driving tour to Ephesus), the island of Patmos (where we will visit the site of the apocalyptic Revelations of St. John), and then finally to Heraklion in Crete and the isle of Santorini.

After your cruise, you’ll explore Athens and visit such monuments as the Temple of Zeus and the Old Olympic Stadium before ending your trip in Corinth and Cenchreae.
Upcoming Facebook Live Event:
Florida-Bahamas Synod Goes to Minneapolis 2021
Rich Langston, our ELCA Youth Gathering Synod Coordinator for 2021, will be hosting a special Facebook Live event on May 14 th at 7:00pm on the ‘FBSynod Goes to Minneapolis 2021’ Facebook page.

This presentation will include important information on the upcoming gathering.

If you would like to join the Facebook Live event but are not a member of the group, simply select “+ Join Group” at the top of the Facebook page.

The Grunewald Guild Summer Courses Available Online

Due to COVID-19, the Grunewald Guild has adapted Forest Vision, their Summer 2020 Course series, to an online format.

Online viewers will get to experience many of the typical Grunewald offerings, including Sunday Evening Welcome Gathering, Matins and an Artist Talk on Monday through Friday, classes that inspire our creativity, Holy Happy Hour talks, a Thursday Evening 40 th Birthday Party for the Guild, and a Saturday Sending Celebration, plus some new things, including daily e-devotions and a private Facebook group for each week’s community, where art can be shared and you can interact with students in other classes.

The learn more about the offered courses, please visit their website HERE.
Stories of Faith in Action
A Story from the OSLC Food Pantry

It’s 10:00 a.m. on a typical Tuesday at Our Saviour Lutheran Church (OSLC) in Marion Oaks, a community located about 10 miles southwest of Ocala. For the past hour or so, people have been arriving at the church parking lot and walking into the church fellowship hall to get their families signed up to receive food.

The OSLC Food Pantry has been providing food for people who might otherwise go hungry for over 10 years. The pantry is an extension of Interfaith Emergency Services, a Marion County institution which provides multiple services for those less fortunate, including shelter for the homeless, food programs for kids, medication assistance, and of course, food for the hungry.

Under normal circumstances, most of the food distributed is brought to the church each Tuesday from Interfaith. That food is supplemented by generous donations from the community of OSLC and also donations from local congregations and individuals.
But “normal circumstances” are a thing of the past. With the onslaught of the coronavirus epidemic, the food pantry at OSLC has become more dependent on individual and community donations. Patrons are now asked to stay in their vehicle and form a line around the perimeter of the parking lot. Volunteers bring food out and load it into their vehicle. Normally, pantry clients submit to a brief qualification process to determine their eligibility. That procedure is now gone and food is given to anyone who asks for it.

Despite the “new normal,” one thing does not change. Each Tuesday, the food pantry at OSLC hears and practices Jesus’ words (from Matthew 25:35), “...for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Inspired by these words, the food pantry continues to serve our brothers and sisters in need.

For several weeks, due to the increased demand, Interfaith has been unable to provide food. But generous donations from within the OSLC community and beyond have kept the pantry functioning.

Please, continue to support the missions of your church and your Synod. Remember to give regularly even during these weeks away from the church building. Your donations help pantries like the one at OSLC and other important ministries throughout our Synod.
Life-Saving Generosity at Spirit of Life's Food Pantry

Spirit of Life Lutheran Church on the northside of Jacksonville, Florida is a small congregation with a servant heart who worship less than 75 members weekly. They operate a Food Pantry every Tuesday and Wednesday from 10:00am to 12:00pm. The ministry has grown beyond the church’s wildest dreams and has quickly outgrown their humble beginnings. The pantry is in the process of expanding.

Spirit of Life has developed a good working relationship with Lutheran Social Services, the USDA, Feeding Northeast Florida, Outback, Little Caesar's Pizza, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and Publix, all of whom provide food that is either delivered or picked up by church volunteers. It's not unusual for someone in the community to hear about the pantry and make a generous donation of canned goods, baby items, or clothing. 

During the pandemic, the pantry’s dedicated volunteers have not wavered. Volunteers continue to help in any way they can. Since the onset of COVID19, the pantry has gone from feeding approximately 200 families weekly to serving 282 families on Tuesday and 112 families on Wednesday during the last week of April.

 It has been said, "that God doesn't give us more than we can handle", and now spirit of Life can also attest that He provides us a way to handle what He gives us. God has truly blessed Spirit of Life with partners and volunteers that do not fail to show up at the right time. God has shone his light on this church and they feel blessed to be able to help those in need.
Mark Your Calendars
Click on the calendar icon to see more
events on the Synod calendar
For Your Information
COVID-19 Resources
Stay in the Know!

Our Synod regularly updates our website with current COVID-19 resources for leaders. Right now, you can find information on the Paycheck Protection Program, Pandemic Precautions, Tips for Kids, and more by visiting our website.
Bishop's Calendar

  • Home Office
If this newsletter was forwarded to you and you would like to subscribe to receive it in the future, please click HERE .