October 9, 2019
Dear friends in Christ,
It is with deep gratitude and appreciation that I inform you that Deacon Sue Mendenhall, who has been serving the Florida-Bahamas Synod as the Director for Youth, Young Adult and Outdoor Ministries—in partnership with serving as the Program Director for Luther Springs through NovusWay—has accepted the call to serve full-time for Luther Springs and NovusWay beginning January 1, 2020. This means she will be leaving her position on synod staff at the end of this year.
Deacon Sue has been instrumental in strengthening ministry with youth throughout this synod in a variety of ways over the years as she has served on synod staff and in congregational ministry. In this most recent position, Sue’s passion for youth and youth ministry has been instrumental in sending youth to ELCA Youth ministry leadership events, coordinating the synod day at ELCA Youth Gatherings, expanding and deepening the Practice Discipleship retreat, developing the presence and involvement of youth at synod assembly, and supporting individual congregations and youth ministry leaders through coaching, mentoring and resource-building.
Deacon Sue’s leave-taking creates an opportunity for us to prayerfully and creatively evaluate and discern the need/s for youth ministry leadership in this synod. The synod council, after deep prayer and discernment, has approved the recommendation from a Youth Ministry Task Force for a full-time youth ministry position. The task force is now developing a job description and a process for filling this position. It is my hope that we will be able to fill this position early next year.
We are counting on mission support from throughout the synod to support the funding of this full-time position, as we have heard many congregations name the desire and need for resources and leadership to strengthen youth ministry in the Florida-Bahamas synod. I am confident in God’s abundance, and that we have within our congregations the resources to support this position for the sake of the gospel.
Please join me in extending heart-felt thanks to Deacon Sue Mendenhall for the incredible dedication and commitment she has shown—and will continue to show—to youth and young people. As she follows the Spirit’s call to this next season of ministry, I am grateful that our partnership with Deacon Sue, our partnership with Luther Springs and NovusWay, and our partnership with youth and youth leaders will continue.
I will keep you informed as the details about the synod youth ministry coordinator position develops.
Pedro M. Suarez, Bishop