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2015 Synod Assembly
May 29-31, 2015

Click here to view Bishop Mark's Video Message about the 2015 Synod Assembly

Biographies of Featured Speakers and Leaders at the Assembly:

28th Annual Assembly
May 29-31, 2015
Sierra Pacific Synod

 The Sierra Pacific Synod met in Assembly under the theme "Connections" and the story of Ezekiel and the valley of the dry bones.

Of the 561 individuals present at Assembly, 470 were voting members. Of that group, 291 were lay persons and 179 were clergy. Thirty six were either persons whose primary language is other than English, or were persons of color. American Sign Language interpreters were available for those with impaired hearing, as well as English to Spanish translation services. Assembly chaplains were Pr. Craig Minich and Pr. Holly McHale-Larson.   

We welcomed Bishop Ying-ping (David) Wu and his spouse, Nancy, Director of Mission Pr. Samuel Cheng and his spouse Pr. Gloria Cheng, from the Taiwan Lutheran Church. Bp. Wu brought greetings to the Assembly, presided at worship on Friday night, and he and the delegation from Taiwan engaged in conversation during the Open Space Conversations on Saturday afternoon.

Keynote addresses were presented by The Rev. Dr. Colleen Windham-Hughes, a member of the faculty at California Lutheran University. The Rev. Jeffrey Thiemann, President andCEO of Portico Benefit Services presented the Bible Studies and brought greetings on behalf of Portico. The Rev. Elizabeth Ekdale, St. Mark's, San Francisco and a member of the ELCA Church Council, introduced The Rev. Ron Glusenkamp, Director of the Always Being Made New Campaign for the ELCA. He delivered the report of the ELCA and electronically shared the inspiring words of Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, and an update on the ELCA Malaria campaign.

Bp. Mark Holmerud in his written verbal and presentations proposed three ways for the Synod to measure progress towards its shared mission:

  • Becoming more culturally competent, culturally humble and anti-racist
  • Becoming a better reflection of the neighborhood and communities we are called to serve
  • Becoming able and willing to share our stories of Jesus

An Assembly Banquet on Saturday evening, Emceed by The Rev. Eugene Jewell celebrated the significant anniversaries of congregations and rostered leaders. Three pastors celebrating their 50th Anniversary of Ordination addressed the banquet - The Rev. Marty Schaefer, The Rev. David Schroeder and The Rev. Helmut (Bill) Busch. 

Pr. Jose Luis La Torre Cuadros and Ms. Karen Idler, AIM who have worked in the Office of the Bishop for over four years each were celebrated, and a service of farewell and thanksgiving was offered, as their positions were eliminated as a result of budget cuts.

Resolutions passed:

  • Resolution 2015-1 Regarding Growth Giving for Mission Support (which encourages each congregation to increase Mission Support by at least 1% of congregational offerings in 2015)
  • Resolution 2015-2 Regarding Gender Identity Inclusivity (whichwelcomes individuals of diverse gender identities into the life of the synod and resolves to revise its policies and institutional language to assist in reaching this goal)  
  • Resolution 2015-3  Regarding Sierra Pacific Synod Compensation Guidelines  (which resolves that the appropriate baseline compensation for full-time pastoral leaders in the Sierra Pacific Synod be increased to $50,700 for the period July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016)
  • Resolution 2015-4  A Memorial to Churchwide Assembly Regarding Gender Identity Inclusivity (which memorializes the 2016 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA to task the ELCA Church Council to review and make recommendations on existing church policy regarding gender identity).
  • Resolution 2015-5 Resolution Regarding the Campaign for the ELCA (which encourages members and congregations to participate in the Always Being Made New Campaign for the ELCA and track the progress of giving in 2016 and 2017).


The Rev. Carlton Monroe was installed as Director of Evangelical Mission and Assistant to the Bishop


Synod Council members elected include Sue Michaelson, District A Lay Female; Rev. Don Haven, District B Clergy; Andrew Stevens, District C Lay Male; Stephanie Leong, District D lay female; Rev. Patricia Vargas, District E Clergy; At-Large Jeffrey Pennington. Those elected to serve in these offices were installed at the Closing Worship Service. 

2016 Churchwide Assembly Voting Members - from which nine voting members will be selected by the Synod Council in June to attend the Churchwide Assembly, along with Bishop Mark W. Holmerud and Synod Vice President Elaine Whitney, as well as the Youth Young Adult Member and The Person of Color/Language Other Representatives listed below:

District          Lay Female                   Lay Male                         Clergy

   A                Pat Cash                       Jack Pease                    Rev. Kathryn Gulbranson

   B                Linda Lownes                Paul Brosy                     Rev. Cindy Carroll

   C                Gail Kiyomura               Andrew Stevens             Rev. Jeff R. Johnson

   D                Elizabeth Hood             James L. White              Rev. Clark Brown

   E                Melissa Standish           Stephen Rosendale       Rev. Patricia Vargas

Youth / young adult representative to 2016 Churchwide Assembly: Nicholas Riner

Person of Color / Primary Language Other than English: Rev. Tuhina Rasche

In other business:

  • The Assembly adopted the 2016-17 Council recommended Budget which showed anticipated total revenue of $2,070,890 expected expenses totaling $2,095,929. 
  • The Assembly heard a reading of changes to the Synod Constitution S9.04 that would simplify the election process for bishop. The changes will be voted on in 2016.
  • Pr. Kerstin Weidmann and Pr. Diane Bowers presented on the 500th anniversary of the reformation that will occur in 2017
  • Pr. John Rutsindintwarane brought greetings from the Lutheran Church in Rwanda, and spoke about the efforts of PICO in Rwanda

There were faith reflections/prayers shared by members of the Sierra Pacific Youth Committee, and other synod youth and young adults on eight occasions during the Assembly.

We shared worship together each day. On Friday evening, The Sacramento Gay Men's Chorus provided musical leadership, Bp. Mark W. Holmerud preached, and Bp. Ying-ping Wu, Taiwan Lutheran Church presided. On Saturday we shared a Service of the Word led by the Rev. Susan Scott. At Closing worship on Sunday, The Rev.  Dr. Colleen Windham-Hughes preached and Bp. Holmerud presided.

Assembly Offerings:

Over $8,000 was received in offerings at the Assembly, which will be divided among these three recipients:
  • Sierra Pacific Synod for Candidacy scholarships 
  • Lutheran Social Services of Northern California
  • Lutheran Disaster Response
Thanks be to God!