Global Mission

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 1 young adult serving YAGM Senegal.

Asalaamaalekum, bonjour, and hello from Fresno, CA.

I hope that this last update finds you and your families healthy in these unprecedented times. This newsletter was a tough one to write, I am not going to lie. Our team was evacuated from Senegal (along with the other global YAGM programs) mid-march and we have been back to the United States for about a month. Included in the newsletter are some reflections about this transition back and last stories from my experience in Senegal, so I hope this brings some of my perspective to the close of this YAGM chapter.

All in all, I am so thankful for this experience, the support of the YAGM team in Chicago, and the prayers from all of you. The opportunity to learn and grow from our global partners was such a beautiful opportunity and one I will always look back on with great joy. There have been a few updates from the larger team, so if you are interested in learning more about the current state/projects of global mission, I would check out their instagram at @elcayagm or on Facebook. And as always, if you are interested in reading more about my journey in Senegal, you can check out my blog, the link is included in the newsletter.

Enjoy and thank you so much for walking alongside me on this incredible journey.

During YAGM orientation, I remember hearing this song and the lyrics seem to fit this moment so well, so I thought I would leave them here:Hamba nathi mkulu wethu  (Zulu) – Come walk with us, the journey is long (English).Thank you again and peace and blessings to you all!

Read Charlie’s Newsletter


Companion Synods

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.

The Sierra Pacific Synod currently has companion synod relationships with the Salvador Lutheran Church (El Salvador), the Lutheran Church of Rwanda and the Taiwan Lutheran Church.

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,

Support of ELCA missionaries in Rwanda including Robin Strickler, founder of the Rwamagana School, 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.

Individuals and congregations who would like more information about accompanying the Salvadoran Lutheran Church should contact Ruth Cruddas, Kent Madsen, or Sue Hertless

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

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.

For more information about companion church relationships in the Sierra Pacific Synod, contact Global Mission Advocacy Team Co-Chairs Ruth Cruddas  and Mary Ritter.

Global Service

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:

The Sierra Pacific Synod Missionaries Serving in Global Mission

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

Watch this video to learn more about YAGM Rwanda