Click the image above to watch the Bishop's update on YouTube!
Hello and welcome to another Florida-Bahamas Synod Update!

As promised, every week I will do my best to update you on my perspective as I serve you as your Bishop.

The big issue right now is the notice from Governor Ron DeSantis that the first phase for reopening Florida began yesterday. I understand that some of you would like further directives from my office as to what to do during this time.

Today, I want to address those of you that are leaders in your congregation, committees and council members, and anyone who serves your congregation in a leadership capacity. You are essential in sharing information and in supporting your pastors. Pastors are making serious decisions, and that can be a lonely position.

First, please note that for congregations, nothing has changed. Even if some businesses slowly begin to reopen, churches were never closed. They are still allowed to gather with ten people or less. There can be people in the office daily, or meeting for planning, for council meetings, and for getting the weekly worship online. Gatherings larger than ten are still not allowed.

Here’s my strong recommendation: Please plan to not come together for worship with more than ten people for the rest of the month of May, at least. Take into consideration the risks to those in vulnerable situations in your congregation: people over 65 and those of any age that have diabetes, heart conditions, respiratory problems, those who have had a serious medical process or treatment recently, and all those with compromised immune systems.

My dear folks, take care of your pastors, as they can quickly become vulnerable. Many people will want to be close to their pastors as soon as they see them forgetting about social distancing.

Secondly, whenever the time to reopen comes, be ready...


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


Use the links below to watch Bishop Suarez's recent video messages:



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.

Please join the effort to support our communities, our congregations, and the Synod!

Congregations are critical at this time as we have a need for sabbath rest in the midst of busyness, need to remember God is present in our lives, and know that we are not alone in the world today. Our congregations are rising to the challenge as leaders continue to minister to members, to those in need and to those searching for peace. We are finding that more people are turning to our churches to help them through this crisis. Certainly, it is time for us to all join together to support our brothers and sisters in Christ.

All are welcome to give as church and individuals.
All gifts are appreciated!
Happenings in Candidacy
Thank You to Our Candidacy Team Members!
The Florida-Bahamas Synod would like to recognize our Candidacy Committee Members for their tremendous work and dedication!

We give thanks for the following committee members who give countless hours of their time to prepare for and attend Candidacy Committee meetings, while also journeying alongside our seminarians as they prepare to serve the wider church:
 
Mr. Wayne Rieley, Committee Chair
Mr. Alonzo Batson
Rev. Bobbie Blackburn
Rev. Katie Carroll
Mr. Chalie Colon
Rev. David Jahn
Rev. Rick Malivuk
Rev. Rob Rose
Mr. Dwane Tyson
 
Bishop Pedro Suarez, Florida-Bahamas Synod
Deacon Connie Schmucker, Assistant to the Bishop
Rev. Ann Schmidt, Committee Chaplain
Dr. Susan Mcarver, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary
Rev. Dr. Ruth Hamilton, Candidacy/Leadership Manager, Region 9
Bev Evans, Candidacy Administrative Support
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.

The Candidacy Committee Thanks Beverly Evans

The Florida-Bahamas Synod's longtime Administrative Assistant for Leadership Beverly Evans will be retiring as of June 30 th.

Throughout her career with the Synod, Bev has been instrumental in supporting not only the Candidacy Committee, but also in supporting Connie Schmucker, our congregations in the transition process, and the Office of the Bishop.

We thank Bev for her tireless efforts, her excellent work, and her friendship while working in the Synod office.

In Bev's absence, the Synod is now hiring a full-time Administrative Assistant for Leadership. For a full job description, please click here to visit our website.
What's New?
DreamCatcher Horse Ranch & Rescue Outreach Before the Pandemic
Submitted by Pamela Schuetz
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, Clermont, Florida

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, eleven people, including Boy and Girl Scouts and five members of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, ventured out on March 8, 2020, to the DreamCatcher Horse Ranch and Rescue for an outreach opportunity. This group of willing participants was eager to get to the ranch and begin painting a newly erected fence for the rescue horses. Little did we know that life as we knew it was about to change forever and that this outreach event was to be our last for quite some time.
After we had signed in with June, our contact person, we were instructed by Ryan, the foreman of the job, as to how to go about painting this huge fence.

After his explanation, we donned our gloves, grabbed our brushes, filled our mini hanging buckets with paint, and found our places on either side of the fence. It was a breezy, overcast day; perfect for painting!
As we finished a section of the fence and moved to another, not having to adhere to the 6’ social distancing rule, we had the freedom to chat and get to know the various members of the “painting crew.” As the saying goes, “Many hands make light work,” so we had completed our task in about 3 hours.
After having served the DreamCatcher community, we wandered around the ranch, listening to the crowing of the roosters, petting the cats and goats, and feeding and petting the rescue horses that were in their stalls.

One horse in particular caught our attention. His name was Highway the I-75 Miracle Horse, because he had defied death four times after having fallen out of a horse trailer while on Interstate 75. 
Digital Seminar Opportunities Now Available!

The “Perspectives on the Border” webinar series on immigration is a partnership project with  Rev. Dr. Jay Alanis , the  Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest (LSPS) , and the following ELCA synods: Gulf Coast, Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana, Sierra Pacific, and Southwestern Texas.

There are two sessions available! Register for both for only $50!

Session 1: Theological Perspectives on Immigration from the U.S. Mexico Borderlands ( May 13, 3pm Central )

Seminar I Description: The recent refugee and migrant crisis along the U.S. - Mexico border provides a window into the complex social, political and cultural worldview of two neighbor nations, a location and human condition that calls for a theological response to address how the church engages 'the other." The current pandemic has exacerbated the response to migration. The seminar will offer theological perspectives on immigration as a border-crossing response of faith.

Session 2: Living in Third Spaces: Where the church meets asylum seekers ( May 14, 3pm Central )

Seminar 2 Description: This seminar will explore liminal space as a third space of faithful living. The seminar will offer theological perspectives on liminality as sacramental eucharistic space where the church encounters and engages the migrant other. 


The sessions will run about an hour in length.

For additional context, we recommend you read this lecture by Rev. Dr. Jay Alanis:  “Borderland Ethics Sin Fronteras: Borderland Ethics Without Borders, Neighbor-Love in Liminal Spaces ."
Statement on Summer Camp Plans for NovusWay Ministries

In pursuit of our mission to provide a safe and healthy community and in response to the continued need for physical distancing, NovusWay Ministries is delaying the start of onsite summer camp programs at Lutheridge, Lutherock, Luther Springs and Lutheranch until Sunday, June 21st. In addition, select programs scheduled for the later part of the summer are affected. This includes our Outdoor Adventure Programs which, out of an abundance of caution for campers and due to external limitations, will remain largely onsite and use the outdoor adventure activities located on all of our sites.

All campers, parents, and guests affected by the changes will receive email communication from NovusWay with updated or alternative registration options. Congregational leadership for Daycamp or Lutheroad programs will receive communication from registration and program leadership about your specific program. Summer staff who have been contracted at Lutheridge, Lutherock, Luther Springs, and Lutheranch will receive communication from the program leadership at their site outlining adjusted plans for orientation.

Like you, we know that children are going to need camp now more than ever. They are going to need the community, faith formation, and outdoor experiences camp provides. At Lutheridge, Lutherock, Luther Spring and Lutheranch we are committed to partnering with you in this mission at the highest level of safety and health. As we continue to work diligently toward a safe and fun summer, we remain committed to following the guidance from the American Camp Association (ACA), the Association of Camp Nursing, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and government authorities. Decisions made by camp leadership and the NovusWay Board of Trustees will be done with the health and safety of our campers, guests, staff and all of God’s world as our top priority. Based upon input from the ACA and the CDC, NovusWay leadership will be evaluating these plans in mid-May. We will continue to communicate any changes in a timely manner to provide families and congregations the greatest timeline to plan.

We have received significant questions of concern for the financial future of the ministry during these uncertain times. We truly appreciate and value the love our camp community has for this ministry we all share. The requirement to cancel programs between March and the beginning of June will have a profound financial impact. We are taking the necessary steps internally to preserve financial resources while not compromising the safety and quality of our program as soon as we are able to gather once again. Financial gifts received during this time will be used to ensure that safety and quality and our ability to welcome campers regardless of their ability to pay.

Registration for the remainder of NovusWay summer camp programs at all sites remains open. To provide you with a greater sense of ease in making your summer camp decision we continue to offer Risk Free Registration. We look forward to gathering again with you and your camper in these sacred spaces where we know that camp changes everything.
Attention Rostered Ministers:
Boundaries Training
Rostered ministers are encouraged to attend our Synod's boundaries & sexual ethics training online during COVID-19:


The expectation of the Bishop is that rostered ministers will attend or take boundaries training once every 3 years.

Questions about  this training  or about the boundaries workshops offered in the synod can be sent to Connie Schmucker at  connies@fbsynod.org.
Mark Your Calendars
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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

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