September 15, 2020
We come with self-inflicted pains
of broken trust and chosen wrong,
half-free, half-bound by inner chains,
by social forces swept along,
by powers and systems close confined
yet seeking hope for humankind.
[Evangelical Lutheran Worship #358, verse 2]
The readings for Sunday, September 20, 2020, the 16th Sunday after Pentecost, are as follows:
We did it!
The Northeastern Ohio Synod held its 2020 Assembly on Friday and Saturday, September 11 and 12; and elected a bishop, three months later than originally scheduled.
It was a virtual assembly, conducted via Zoom. Our base was the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron, where we normally hold our live assemblies. But the voting members all watched from the comfort of their homes. Since the hall has the capability of seating hundreds of people, safe distancing was not a problem. At no time did we have more than 30 people in the room. The assembly was live streamed and a recording can be seen on our NEO Synod YouTube channel.
The bulk of the credit goes to the Assembly Planning Committee: Sony Gilroy, Tim Barrage, Larry Fenton, Karen Kaufman, Jane Koch, Marilyn Matevia, Jimmy Madsen, and John Sleasman, who all put in a yeoman's effort to make sure this went off as smoothly as possible.
Secretary Sue Rothmeyer was the ELCA representative and presided over the bishop election process. She did a masterful job and her experience was invaluable as we were not without technical glitches that created a couple awkward delays.
NEO Synod Bishop-Elect, the Rev. Dr. Laura Barbins
The Rev. Dr. Laura Barbins was elected. She will become the synod's fifth Bishop, beginning December 1.
Pastor Barbins has served on our synod council, the Executive Committee, as well as the Finance & Budget Committee. In addition to her current call as Pastor of Celebration Lutheran Church in Chardon, she is also an adjunct Professor of Homiletics at Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University.
We wish her all God's blessings in this new call.
The transition will take place over the next several weeks. During this time, to paraphrase John 3:30, she must increase, but I must decrease. I ask your prayers for this process, especially for those on our staff who will be discerning where God will be calling them next.
LYO Cross
One of my most treasured memories of this assembly will be the gift I received from the Lutheran Youth Organization. It was a cross with photos of some of the current and previous members of the board.
During my time in office, these young people have been a life-giving force for my ministry. For the past several years, I have sat in on a few of the Board's planning meetings, I am always amazed at seeing their growth and development over these past six years.
I have told any adult who will listen that the Church is in good hands and we need not fear for the future, but have courage, and ask God to guide us and lead us forward together, young and old, as the body of Christ. Youth will surprise us when given a role in leadership. My interaction with these young people is one of those joys that I'll miss when I leave this office in a few weeks.
I've deviated from the readings for this Sunday, but I wrote a reflection on the Gospel lesson three years ago and, if you wish, you can read my Monday Musings from September 18, 2017.
My electronic meeting schedule this week is as follows:
Tuesday:   Staff Meeting
Thursday: Conference of Bishops Weekly Check-in
Friday:       Worship Committee Meeting
The next Northeastern Ohio Synod Rostered Ministers Monthly Gathering will be Wednesday, October 7, 2020, beginning at 10 a.m.
Please email the synod office ( or contact your conference Dean for the link.
For our closing prayer let us look ahead to the installation of our next Bishop. This is the prayer that will be said over her as the Presiding Bishop lays hands on her head.
Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we give you thanks that by your Holy Spirit you sustain the church.
By the power of the Holy Spirit
you call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify the whole church.
Pour out your Spirit upon Laura 
to empower and enlighten her ministry as a bishop in your church.
Sustain her as a shepherd
who tends the flock of Christ with love and gentleness,
and oversees the ministries of the church with vision and wisdom.
Uphold her a faithful steward of your holy word and life-giving sacraments
and a strong sign of reconciliation among all people.
Give courage and fortitude to sustain her in this ministry.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Savior and Lord,
through whom all glory and power and honor are yours
in your holy church, both now and forever.
+Bishop Abraham Allende