April 10, 2017
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ in the Florida-Bahamas Synod,
Greetings in the name of our crucified and risen Christ!
It is good to be among you as your interim bishop! I believe that God is eager to surprise us in new ways through this time of transition together. My first week in this synod has been rich. This past Thursday, I had the privilege of joining with the people of God at Spirit of Joy in Orlando for the ordination and installation of Pr. Ryan Gerlach. Friday provided the opportunity to visit, pray and sing with retired pastor Rudy Ressmeyer and his wife Lenore at Luther Haven Assisted Living Home. Although I’ve long admired Pr. Ressmeyer for his Gospel centered ministry and for his critical leadership in the church, I had never personally met him. On Saturday, I was able to participate in the Lenten Visitation at Memorial Lutheran in St. Augustine as together we heard and received the Good News and so affirmed the promises made at our consecrations and ordinations. On Sunday, I gathered for worship with Pastor Vince Iocona and the people of St. Mark by the Sea in Palm Coast for Palm/Passion Sunday worship.
In the course of these visitations, I had the joy of renewing friendships and meeting many colleagues in ministry and baptized members of this synod. It’s hard to imagine a more powerful set of days. They reminded me about the preciousness of our baptismal vocations and callings as deacons and pastors. As we now journey together through Holy Week and the Festival of the Resurrection of our Lord, I pray that with grateful hearts we will each keep our eyes and hearts open for the ways in which the message of Christ crucified and risen nurtures and empowers us for God’s mission and ministry in our world in this time and place.
As I have mentioned before, as interim bishop my primary work will be to tend to the Gospel as central to our life together. In doing that, I will work with the staff to carry out the constitutional responsibilities of the Office of the Bishop. I will also work with Vice-President Cheryl Stuart, the Executive Committee, and the Synod Council to prepare the synod for the elections that will take place at this year’s Synod Assembly, Oct. 12-14, 2017. To that end one of our first priorities is to pull together three working teams that will guide us through the process of the bishop’s election.
Our goal is to have these teams formed by the end of the month. The Worship Team, led by Pr. Ken Blyth, will begin planning for the Service of Installation on January 20, 2018. This will involve finding a location, planning the service and reception, inviting guests, and navigating all aspects of the installation service. The Synod Profile Team, led by Mr. Tom O’Reilly and Pr. Jon Keiser, will work with ELCA Churchwide staff member, Mr. Ken Inskeep in putting together a synod profile. The Election Process Team will not only work on the election process itself at the assembly, but will also consider and encourage resources to facilitate discernment—both for pastors who may be open to the call to serve as bishop as well as for all who will be voting. As these teams are formed, we will ensure relevant information is communicated in a timely manner. Please keep these teams, the synod staff, and each other in your prayers as we discover again what it means to be the body of Christ.
Is it an understatement to say that the women and men who were witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection were awestruck and amazed. Following Jesus’ resurrection, gifted by the Holy Spirit, they would move from fear to bold proclamation of the crucified and risen Lord. May we hear the message of Holy Week and Easter with attentive ears and an open heart. And so, may the Holy Spirit move us from dullness of heart, indifference, and fear to renewed joy and participation in the holy work entrusted to us.
Together with you at the cross and open tomb,
Bishop Marcus C. Lohrmann