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We heard it in the conversations, we read it in the answers to questions, and we discussed it amongst ourselves: The Sierra Pacific Synod, at this moment in its history, finds itself standing in a mixed shower of promising opportunities and tough challenges.
So much of both is tied to the geographic size of the Synod and to its racial, cultural, intellectual, economic and theological diversity, from the streets of San Francisco to the mountains of Nevada, from the Redwoods of the north to the fertile fields of the Central Valley, from the center of technological discoveries in the Silicon Valley to the legislative halls of Sacramento, from the classrooms of the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union to the Sunday School rooms of our churches.
It is a Synod rich in material, educational and leadership resources; a Synod with tens of thousands of baptized, confirmed and communing members, with 204 congregations, of which 60 percent have fewer than 350 baptized members, with many talented and dedicated pastors and lay leaders; a Synod with numerous congregations involved in faith-based community organizing efforts, and with a growing potential for evangelism and outreach; a Synod where many are searching for their identity as Lutheran Christians, and where 30 congregations are currently involved in the call process, 18 of which are being served by interim pastors.
It is a Synod that has fifteen new ministries under development, including seven which are ethnic ministries, which is indicative of our diverse population and of our outreach programs. We can rejoice in the fact that the fifteen represent five percent of all the new starts throughout the 65 ELCA Synods.
It is a Synod in transformation. Therein, lie the challenges we uncovered at the gatherings, from the questionnaires, from the ELCA audit, from the Listening Posts, and from our own observations.
The issues are grouped into 13 themes, each of which reflects a wide range of thoughts and ideas expressed by both clergy and lay members who attended the gatherings or responded to the questionnaires. Each issue is explored at length in the accompanying documents, along with suggested questions that might be asked of candidates for Bishop.
- • Bishop’s Ecclesiastical Duties
- • Call Process
- • Care for the Pastors
- • Communication
- • Diversity
- • Finances
- • Geography
- • Healthy Multiplying Congregations
- • Identity
- • Leadership Development
- • Sexuality
- • Staffing of the Bishop’s Office
- • Synod Structure
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