February 10, 2017
Dear sisters and brothers of the Florida-Bahamas Synod,
The author of Ecclesiastes writes: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (3:1).
For the past three and a half years it has been my season to serve as bishop of the Florida-Bahamas Synod. While this was never an office I sought, it has been a remarkable honor and privilege to serve as this synod’s chief pastor. There have been many joys and privileges associated with serving as a bishop in this church. At the same time, I would be less than truthful if I didn’t confess that the rigors and responsibilities of this office, both on the territory of this synod and in the wider church, have taken a toll on me spiritually and personally, not to mention the toll it has taken on my family during my regular absences.
Following the Christmas holidays, I spent time with Pr. Jennifer and my children reflecting on the toll this office is taking on my spirit. I have spent time in prayer and shared my struggles in this call with our presiding bishop. I have come to the realization that this call is not suited to my spirit. This reflection has led me to the decision to resign as bishop of the Florida-Bahamas Synod as of March 5. I have not come to this decision lightly or easily, but the weight this office has put on my soul these last years has led me to be at peace with this decision.
It has been the greatest honor of my ministry to serve as your bishop, and there are many, many ways that I will miss it. I am not sure what the Lord of the Church has in store for me next, but I will take some time over the next several months to listen. Please pray for me as I will pray for you in the time ahead. In the midst of all the changes and challenges of life, we know that God’s love in Christ is the one anchor.
Life in the synod will go on as usual. Soon, an interim bishop will be appointed who will carry on and oversee the work of the Office of the Bishop until the next bishop is elected. The Synod Council is meeting this weekend and will communicate further details in the days ahead. (added 2/11: Read the synod council vice president’s notice to the synod here)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Thanks be to God!
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Robert G. Schaefer
Bishop of the Florida-Bahamas Synod
I have waited for a month to post this comment.
I thank God for your now retired bishop, Robert G. Schaefer, who has been a friend since my attending his installation in Lutz as ELCA Bishop for the Florida and Bahamas Synod.
The news of his resignation really stunned me, because he has been so forthcoming and generous in responding to all requests of an ecumenical nature from the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine in general, and to the parish of Santa Maria del Mar Catholic Church in Flagler Beach. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the people of our parish have a real fondness and rapport to this man of God.
We thank God for his being “our” Lutheran bishop for the last 3 1/2 years, and look forward to continued friendship with his successors.
Chau T. Phan, Associate Diocesan Ecumenical Officer, Diocese of St. Augustine, FL.
We all have to listen to where God is directing our life. I am sure this was not an easy decision. Many blessings to wherever God leads you.
Blessings and prayers,
Redeemer Winter Park
(Former Secy of St. John Winter Park )
Our love and prayers go with you on this extremely hard decision that you have made. We thank you for the wonderful years that you have been our bishop. We thank you for sharing your wonderful wife with us as our dear pastor and hope that the lord will bless you in wherever your path leads you! We love you all!
We will miss you and wish you and your family the very best in your future endeavors. With prayers, go in peace to the next stage of your life.
Maria Martins, Salem Lutheran Church, Orlando, Fla.
Bishop Schaefer, Thank you so much for your service. It was a pleasure meeting you from time to time and I enjoyed your messages. So as you go where the Lord leads, may it be something that you will love.
Knowing you, you gave your heart and soul in service to the Synod. May God grant you peace as you leave this “weighty” responsibility. May He give you courage to press on to your next ministry. With Blessings and Love – Jo Ann