The Sierra Pacific Synod in Service around the World
Young Adults in Global Mission - YAGM
The ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program invites ELCA young adults ages 21-29 into a transformative, year-long journey in international service. As they offer themselves in service, ELCA young adults are shaped by the witness of our global neighbors. They share in the journeys of companion churches and organizations in one of nine countries around the world.
The Sierra Pacific Synod currently has 2 young adults serving YAGM Central Europe.
Hannah Pearl Penumaka and Juliana Stein-Webber Each are involved in congregational life of an Hungarian Lutheran Church (Magyarországi Evangélikus Egyház) and works throughout the week in one or more Lutheran-run institutions. In each unique context throughout Hungary, volunteers are connected explicitly or implicitly with members of Roma communities.
Companion synod relationships of the ELCA connect Lutheran churches throughout the world with ELCA synods and congregations. These relationships are concrete expressions of the communion and fellowship with the more than 140 Lutheran member churches of The Lutheran World Federation. Each of the 65 synods has at least one international church companion and many have additional relationships, resulting in more than 120 companion synod relationships.
22 Sierra Pacific Synod congregations have companion relationships with congregations in the Lutheran Church of Rwanda. The Rwandan Lutheran Church is growing so there are additional congregations available for companion relationships – six available Rwandan congregations at last count. The relationships between SPS and Rwandan Lutherans include
Prayers for one another and various types of communication including email and Facebook,
Regular financial support of Rwandan congregations and pastors,
Support of students in Rwandan congregations as well as students at the Rwamagana Lutheran Secondary School,
Visits from Pastor John Rutsindintwarane who is Assistant to the Lutheran Bishop in Rwanda and Executive Director of PICO Rwanda picointernational.org,
Support of ELCA missionaries in Rwanda including Robin Strickler, founder of the Rwamagana School rwandaschoolproject.org, and Pastor Kate Warn and Pastor Janelle Neubauer, the former and current Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) in-country coordinators.
Information about Rwandan Lutheran Church relationships is shared every year at the “Rwanda Connections” meeting in Sacramento. Watch in the SPS newsletter for details.
If your congregation is interested in developing a companion relationship with a Lutheran congregation in Rwanda, contact Cindy Tuisku.
The Sierra Pacific Synod has a long history of relationship with the Salvadoran Lutheran Church, dating back to the Salvadoran civil war in the 1980s.
We have hosted visits from Salvadoran church leaders, and SPS congregations and synod leaders regularly visit partners in El Salvador.
Several individuals and congregations in the SPS have companion relationships with Salvadoran Lutheran churches and schools and communities in El Salvador. Relationships have been developed and sustained over years of accompaniment.
Many in the SPS are now accompanying Salvadorans both in El Salvador and in the United States as so many flee the dangers of gangs, violence and corruption. Congregations in the SPS are becoming AMMPARO (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation, and Opportunities) “Welcoming Congregations” and Sanctuary Congregations in order to advocate for Salvadorans both in El Salvador and in the United States.
We hope to have the Salvadoran Lutheran Bishop Medardo Gomez as a special guest at the SPS Assembly in Sacramento June 1-3, 2018.
Good Shepherd Christian Community in Cupertino, CA is a congregation of the Taiwan Lutheran Church. Their vision is “To honor God by building a Christ-centered, Grace-filled community in the Silicon Valley, helping each other to love and follow Jesus.” Pastor Joseph Chiu is the Taiwan Lutheran Church pastor. Bishop Wu, Pastor Chiu and others from the Lutheran Church in Taiwan were special guests at the 2015 SPS Assembly in Sacramento. Our Bishop Holmerud has visited the Lutheran Church in Taiwan and was graciously hosted and tells wonderful stories of his visit amongst the Taiwanese Lutherans. Good Shepherd Christian Community Church is open to guests and visitors as they accompany Taiwanese and other Christians in the Silicon Valley. See gsccschool.org
We are a church that believes God is calling us into the world – together. Companion church relationships enrich and deepen our ministries by exposing us to global challenges and perspectives as we seek to work with one another to build up the body of Christ and the world.
ELCA Global Mission personnel serve in more than 40 countries in assignments that range from a few months to eight years or more. Positions fall into four categories of service:
- Long-term (usually four or more years)
- Global Mission two-year program
- Self-funded volunteer (varied length) – includes teachers and health care professionals
The Sierra Pacific Synod Missionaries Serving in Global Mission
Pastor Derek Harmon – Bratislava International Church
The Bratislava International Church is an international community that gathers each week in an English-language worship service of Holy Communion, followed by fellowship and refreshments. They meet in the historic Malý Kostol (Small Church) located on Panenska 26/28 near the Presidential Palace in downtown Bratislava. They also have a time for Bible Study each week on Tuesday evenings and a choir that meets for weekly rehearsals on Wednesday evenings.
Read Derek’s Newsletter
Pastor Kirsten Laderach – YAGM Country Coordinator – Madagascar
“I coordinate the YAGM (Young Adults in Global Mission) program of the ELCA in Madagascar. This means programmatic, logistical and pastoral support for 10 volunteers in all corners of this country. I travel a ton to see them and to support the accompaniment part of our church to church work. I am constantly being refined and renewed, learning things about the world and myself while challenging and cultivating my faith.”
Read Kirsten’s Newsletter
Pastor Rachel Ann Eskesen and Pastor Zachary Courter – YAGM Country Coordinator – Central Europe
Hello! We’re Zach and Rachel. We are Lutheran missionaries living and serving in Budapest Hungary. The Reverend Rachel coordinates the Young Adults in Global Mission-Central Europe Program for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Zach helps with coordinating the YAGM program, but is also currently serving as the intern pastor at City Park Lutheran Church in Budapest, as well as teaching religion classes at Városligeti School.
We are thrilled to be living and serving here in Budapest, though as you might imagine, sometimes we miss our family and friends back in the states. We are here to help share the good news of God’s love with all people, and help them see how God is calling them to live into this love. This love is one that God freely gives all people, and one that is stronger than racism, sexism, and other kinds of violence. We believe that sharing this message, with the help of the Holy Sprit, will help make the world a better place for all people.
Read Zach and Rachel’s Newsletter
Pastor Janelle Neubauer – YAGM – Rwanda
Updates, stories, and prayers from the Lutheran Church of Rwanda, the Young Adults in Global Mission program, and me, your friend and ELCA missionary, all from within the Land of One Thousand Hills.
Read Janelle’s Newsletter