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It's been a busy couple of weeks for our friends on the coast at Trinity Lutheran Church in Fort Bragg, CA! The congregation hosted a toy giveaway for the Mendocino Children's Fund in their Trinity Hall. They registered and reached out to nearly 450 families in our area, giving out toys from near and far away. The congregation also also baptized two granddaughters of a member of their church. They met with Rev. Randy Knutson over three months to prepare for this day and go through this Rite of Baptism on Sunday, January 8th; the Baptism of our Lord, 2023.

The 11th Annual Asian Lutheran International Conference met in Chiang Rai, Thailand this past week, and many members of the Sierra Pacific Synod were present at the Conference! Rev. Samee Singkeovilay, Rev. Bill Wong, Rev. Moses Penumaka, and Rev. Tita Valeriano of our synod were just a few of the 130+ participants who attended. Blessings as this group begins their travels home!

Pictures courtesy of AAPI ELCA Facebook page.

Lutheran Social Services of Northern California Development Director Jerry Metzker was the guest preacher at Christ Lutheran Church in El Cerrito, CA this past Sunday. We're grateful for LSS's partnership and presence throughout our synod!

This past Sunday, Paradise Lutheran Church in Paradise, CA held their Annual Congregational Meeting, at which they elected this new council. Prayers for these faithful servants in the year ahead!

Rev. Christian Chavarría of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church departed our synod after a long week of preaching, worshipping, and visiting with eight churches across California. Pictured above is his visit with Faith Lutheran Church in Chico, CA, lunch and a meeting with Bishop Claire Burkat, worship at Grace Lutheran Church in Palo Alto, CA, and a visit with Cross and Crown Lutheran Church in Rohnert Park, CA. We can't wait to welcome you back soon, Rev. Christian!

Members of St. John's Lutheran Church in Sacramento, CA and Faith Lutheran Church in Chico, CA departed for the Holy Land and Jordan yesterday. Prayers to this group as they travel, learn, worship, and gather with others during this life-giving trip.

Send your ministry pictures to or (650) 302-0364 be featured in the Synod Newsletter!

Parochial Reports and Bishop Reports Information

Earlier this month, all Rostered Ministers and Congregational Officers were sent an email with information regarding Parochial Reports and Bishop Reports. These Reports give all of us greater capacity to address the needs of our ministries and participate in the proclamation of the Good News. All Reports are due no later than March 1, 2023.

If you did not receive one of these emails and believe that you should have, please email and she will pass along all necessary information.

Upcoming Synod-Wide Events

Ordination of the Rev. Paul Larson 

Sunday, January 22nd at 3:00pm 

Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Salinas

We join Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Salinas, CA in inviting all to attend the Ordination Service of the Rev. Paul Larson on Sunday, January 22nd at 3:00pm. Come celebrate this new season of ministry for Rev. Paul and the Good Shepherd community!

Clergy and Seminarians are invited to robe in red. To RSVP, please email

Synod Lunch at the Extravaganza

Saturday, February 4, 2023 at 12:30pm

at La Casa Garcia, Anaheim

Are you attending the ELCA Extravaganza in Anaheim, CA this February? If so, we invite you to join us for a synod-wide lunch! On Saturday, February 4, in-person participants of the Extravaganza are invited to join their synod for a lunch. The Sierra Pacific Synod will gather in the lobby of the hotel and walk to La Casa Garcia, 531 W Chapman Ave.

If you're able to attend, please RSVP by emailing or texting (650) 302-0364.

SPSYC High School Retreat

February 24-26, 2023

at Mt. Cross Ministries, Ben Lomond, CA

The Sierra Pacific Synod Youth Committee (SPSYC) is hosting their annual High School Retreat this February 24-26, 2023 at Mt. Cross Ministries in Ben Lomond, CA. The Retreat will center around the theme "God's Love: Inside Out", rooted in 1 John 4:19. Registration for the retreat is now open here!

At this retreat, eligible high school students will have the opportunity to join and serve on the Sierra Pacific Synod Youth Committee! Learn more about serving on SPSYC here.

Updates and Resources from ELCA Churchwide & Beyond

God's Love On Tour!

Mt. Cross Ministries 2023 Summer Schedule

Mt. Cross Ministries just announced their 2023 Summer Schedule and programming! They'll begin the summer with 3 weeks of on-site programming for all ages, then hit the road for off-site day camp, then finish out with more on-site programming, but this week at Sly Park Recreation Area in Pollock Pines, CA.

Registration opens February 1st - you can learn more here.

Commission for a Renewed Lutheran Church

"At the 2022 Churchwide Assembly last August, voting members adopted a memorial concerning restructuring the ELCA’s governance, and in November the Church Council responded to this by authorizing the establishment of a Commission for a Renewed Lutheran Church. Individuals who wish to be nominated for the commission or to nominate another person can learn more here. Nominations are open through March 9."

Spirit-Centered Moment

Written by Rev. Carl Wilfrid

Based on Matthew 4:12-23

My friend has written a book! What a unique treat it is to read such a book, especially since I have long been familiar with his preaching and teaching, the ways Jesus has touched his heart and mind. The friend is Rev. Dr. Don Heinz, long time member of Faith Lutheran Church, Chico, and my pastoral partner (formally and informally) during my 20 years there, our Sierra Pacific Synod partner, and retired Professor of religious studies and Dean at CSU-Chico. The book is “Matthew 25 Christianity: Redeeming Church and Society.” 

In this week’s verses from Matthew 4 Jesus begins his mission-work by taking up the task of the newly arrested John the Baptizer, calling people to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near,” and beginning to gather a community of disciples, a church. Quoting the prophet Isaiah, Matthew describes this new “Jesus movement” as a source of great light in a dark time. In his book Don imagines a new movement of Christians and churches (“Matthew 25 Christianity”) who understand Jesus’ picture of the final judgment in Matthew 25 (“I was hungry and you gave me food…As you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”) to be the heart of Christian proclamation and discipleship. He imagines a movement that partners even with individuals and institutions in secular society, that confronts “unregulated capitalism” (always bad news for the poor), and serves as catalyst for the reshaping of society – as the civil rights movement began in churches but eventually gained other partners and transformed the culture. Surely a realist, Don asks troubling questions: Has the church sold its soul for cultural acceptance? Does the church have the courage for prophetic proclamation to a self-satisfied society? Will the society pay attention to church people? But more than just a realist, Don also imagines fans at football games holding aloft signs that read not “John 3:16” but “Matthew 25.” Firmly grounded in the Lutheran tradition, Don imagines a new Christianity focused not on personal spirituality but on care for the poor and transformation of society. 

Many worthy questions emerge once you’ve read the book. Could you imagine voting to designate your congregation a “Matthew 25 congregation,” just as many have chosen to self-designate as” Reconciling in Christ” churches? What would be the advantage to doing that? Could “social gospel” mean a gospel you take out the door, as you appear amidst the least of these, and also as you collaborate with government and other agencies to work for social justice across the land – as the Lutheran-founded Bread for the World does?

I suggest this book would be an important and timely read for preachers and hearers during this Year of Matthew.

Connect with Synod Staff & Your Conference Dean

Bishop Claire S. Burkat

Interim Bishop, Sierra Pacific Synod

Deacon JJ Godwin

Executive Assistant to the Bishop

Dale Loepp

Director of Finance Contractor

Debbie Cook

Finance Assistant Contractor

Rev. Manda Truchinski

Assistant to the Bishop for Leadership & Strategic Organization

Catherine Slabaugh

Communications & Connections Coordinator

Rev. Dr. Dawn Roginski

Interim Assistant Director of Evangelical Mission

Rev. Ben Colahan 

Dean, Redwood Mountain Conference 1

Rev. Dave Miller

Dean, Bridges Conference 2

Rev. Dr. Gabriele Schroeder

Dean, Capitol Valley Conference 3

Rev. Charlane Lines

Dean, Sierra Nevada Foothills Conference 4

Rev. John Kuehner

Dean, San Francisco Peninsula Conference 5

Rev. Cristina Beauchemin

Dean, El Camino Real Conference 6

Rev. Dr. John Valentine

Dean, Mt. Diablo Conference 7

Rev. Mark Price

Dean, Sierra Central Valley Conference 8

Rev. Jodi Golden-Lund

Dean, Central San Joaquin Conference 9

Rev. Cindy Beck

Dean, Interim Ministry

The Sierra Pacific Synod Office resides on the unceded land of the Ramaytush Ohlone People.
To learn more about their tribal history, we encourage you to click here.
The Sierra Pacific Synod is a Sanctuary Synod and a Reconciling in Christ Synod.
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