2015 Synod Assembly


28th Annual Synod Assembly – May 29-31, 2015

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 and CEO 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.

Synod 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



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


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 (which welcomes 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).

Keynote Speakers

Pr-Ron-Glusenkamp-BioPastor Ron Glusenkamp serves as the Director of Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA, a five-year $198 million comprehensive campaign that will establish a strong culture of stewardship that will position this church to boldly do God’s work in Jesus’ name throughout the world.

Ron is a graduate of Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne, Indiana (BA in Greek)and also a graduate of Christ Seminary – Seminex (M. Div. Biblical Studies). He was ordained in 1981.

He most recently served as Senior Pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, CO and previously served at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wichita, KS; Immanuel Lutheran Church, Kansas City; Gethsemane Lutheran Church, St. Louis, MO. Ron was the Vice President of Customer Relations for the ELCA Board of Pensions (now Portico), and was a guest Lutheran Preacher for the Protestant Hour.

In 1998 Ron published a book titled Signs for These Times (CPH), which is a practical resource that helps church leaders use their church signs as a venue for getting their congregation known in the community and connecting faith with daily life and community happenings. He co-wrote God’s Standard or Gold Standard?: Studies in Proverbs (Book of Faith) with Peter Mayer, which follows readings from Year B, Lectionaries 23-25.

Jeff-Thiemann-Bio-031715The Rev. Jeffrey Thiemann, President and CEO
Portico Benefit Services, a Ministry of the ELCA

The Rev. Jeffrey Thiemann began his term of office as President and CEO of Portico Benefit Services on October 1, 2011. Pr. Thiemann serves on the Board of Directors of the Church Benefits Association, which promotes excellence for church benefit plans through nonpartisan education, collaboration and fellowship. He is on the Steering Committee of the Church Alliance, a coalition of CEOs of 38 church benefit programs to ensure that benefit-related legislative and regulatory initiatives fully address the unique nature of church plans.

Pr. Thiemann was executive pastor at Saint Matthew Lutheran Church in Walnut Creek, California. Prior to answering a call to ordained ministry, Thiemann worked in a variety of business settings that included technical, marketing and executive management and leadership roles. He consulted to startups in Silicon Valley, was President and CEO of a startup and spent nearly 20 years at Hewlett-Packard Co., in global assignments and management positions.

Pr. Thiemann earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science engineering in 1980 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. He is a 1997 graduate of Harvard Business School’s The General Manager Program, Executive Education, in Boston. He received his Master of Divinity in 2005 from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, Calif.

Jeff and his wife, Pam, have four children and one grandson. He and his wife reside in Plymouth, MN and are members of Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Maple Grove, MN.

Colleen-WindhamColleen Windham-Hughes, Ph.D., M.Div. Assistant Professor, Religion
California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, CA

At Whittier College, Dr. Windham-Hughes designed an undergraduate major in Theatre History and Dramatic Criticism around her passion for the arts. A lifetime of experiences in church and at camp, plus one life-changing course in Latin American Liberation Theologies in the spring of her junior year, convinced her to pursue the study of religion in graduate school. Colleen completed a Master’s degree in Divinity at Claremont School of Theology and shaped a doctoral degree in Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, around interdisciplinary connections among Christian thought, practical engagement, and critical reflection. A Deacon in the United Methodist Church, Colleen’s experience includes university teaching, ministries with youth, children, and adults, and curriculum development for religious studies at an elementary school in Santa Barbara, California.

Colleen has been a member of the faculty for five years, is Director of the program in Theology and Christian Leadership and is also part of the Practice Discipleship Initiative.

Recent presentations include: Rocky Mountain Synod Assembly and  Practice Discipleship Webinar