Dear Friends and Colleagues of the Florida Bahamas Synod,
With joy and thanksgiving, I share that Sunday, October 1st is declared as “Global Mission Sunday” in the Florida Bahamas Synod. Global Mission Sunday is an invitation for congregations and conferences to intentionally and specifically lift up the work of the Global Church and take the opportunity to generously support this important work. Donations will be gratefully accepted in the Synod office for supporting projects and consultations with our companion churches and global relationships.
In my brief time in this synod, I have learned a great deal about the richness of this synod’s relationships with Cuba, Haiti, Guyana and Suriname. How fortunate you are to have so many opportunities to experience and witness how the church is growing in other countries and cultures! Imagine what can be learned from the churches in Guyana and Suriname who have been worshipping as Lutherans for over 375 years! The loving relationship with Cuba has persisted despite international political and economic tension between our 2 countries for over 50 years. And many congregations and conferences within the synod have had been impacted by the mutual relationship with the Lutheran Church in Haiti and its dynamic and charismatic leader, Pr. Livenson.
One of the greatest joys of my pastoral career has been my involvement with Global Mission and working with the Companion Synod-church program. For example, during my last visit to the Northwestern Ohio Synod’s Companion Synod in Tanzania, I went to Makumira Seminary to visit Pastor Tim and Diane Sonnenberg, who have been serving as ELCA Global Mission Volunteers and teaching at the seminary for a semester each of the last five years. Tim, a retired pastor, from the Northwestern Ohio Synod, taught liturgy and preaching, while Diane, a retired Social Worker and Therapist, taught pastoral care and counseling. During my visit, they introduced me to Dominic Nyambisa, a gifted seminarian from Kenya whose study at the seminary was being funded by the ELCA. When I asked Dominic concerning how the Holy Spirit had worked to shape his faith and sense of call, he immediately responded that it was an ELCA Missionary Robert Schmalzle who served in Nairobi, Kenya for many years (now serving at Trinity Lutheran, Kissimmee) who had most impacted him. God-willing, this fall the Sonnenbergs will be joining Pastor Nyambisa for six weeks of service in Kenya. Needless to say, I have a renewed appreciation for Companion Synod relationships and what it means to be “church together.”
Your demonstration of support – through prayer, mission trips, disaster response, and funding of projects – has been inspiring and heart-warming to me. I am grateful for what you do as leaders and members of a church body that clearly sees and understands our call to be a part of the wider church.
Together with you in Christ,
+Bishop Marcus Lohrmann