A Message from Kathryn Gulbranson, Assistant to the Bishop

A Message from Kathryn Gulbranson, Assistant to the Bishop

Thomas and I were watching our favorite detective show on Netflix – when suddenly, all of our lights went out on Saturday evening. You really have no idea how dark it can get, until you experience all the electricity being shut off at once!

We found our flashlights, and quickly realized that two of them didn’t work! (Guess I should have looked them over when I carefully set them all out on our kitchen counter the day before!) Then we set off to check on Jason, who is our nineteen-year-old neighbor, to see how he was doing. His Mom was at his grandparents’ home in Illinois, so he was alone. He was fine, but decided to come over to our house for a while, with his dog Roxy. We gave him one of our flashlights, since he didn’t know where his were!

It was then that we saw our neighbor, newly widowed, pull into her driveway. We all decided to make our way to Sandy’s home to check in on her. When we got to her home, her front door was open, and we couldn’t see a thing! So I began whistling, and then called her name out, “Sandy! Sandy! Are you there?” She came out, and the four of us stood in her front yard for a while – gabbing. Without streetlights – you could see all the stars out! Sandy had plenty of flashlights and a lantern – and they all worked!

The next day, I began calling our pastors who serve congregations in Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa and later in the day in Vallejo. Some from Santa Rosa have been evacuated and others are without power. One of our newest pastors to our synod, Pr. Dave Miller, lost his home in Santa Rosa two years ago in the fires. He and his family had just been evacuated from their new home and on Sunday morning had no place to live. I spoke with Dave today, and they are settled into a home from one of his father-in-law’s friends. He said, “We feel so blessed.”

On Reformation Sunday, I drove to Lutheran Church of the Cross, in Berkeley. It was there that I noticed some members of Shepherd of the Hills in Berkeley. SOH decided not to hold services, due to no electricity in some members’ homes as well as their church, and also because it’s at the top of the hill – the most dangerous place due to the wind. Tilden Park had been closed. So they all went to other churches in Berkeley.

We lifted up these people in prayer at Lutheran Church of the Cross on Sunday morning. As I preached – the windows were rattling while the wind blew hard outside, sending leaves and branches to fall against the windowpanes. It was a bit unnerving.

On my way home from Berkeley, I passed a dozen or so fire trucks – all from different areas of our state – driving toward Sonoma County. As I passed them, I rolled my window down and waved. One fire fighter saw me, and I mouthed, “Thank you!” Such brave men and women.

May God grant the fire fighters and other first responders strength and safety,

Fill the people with peace who have had to leave their homes,

And give all of us a strong sense of God’s abiding presence as we live through this time, again, in California –

As we spend some time whistling in the dark – hoping and praying that all will be well.

In Christ’s Love,

Pr. Kathryn Gulbranson


In Our Prayers:

Pr. Dave Miller – All Saints Lutheran, Novato

Interim Pr. Diane Bowers – Thanksgiving Lutheran, Santa Rosa

& Knox Presbyterian – Santa Rosa

Interim Pastor Bill Wessner – Cross and Crown, Rohnert Park

Bethlehem – Santa Rosa

Pr. Dawn Roginski – United in Grace, Vallejo

Pr. Kim Swenson – Shepherd of the Hills, Berkeley

Pr. John Valentine – Holy Shepherd Lutheran, Orinda

Pr. Dan Senter – Our Savior’s Lutheran, Lafayette