Bishop: Greetings and welcome to this Florida-Bahamas Synod Update for the first week of June 2020. I am Pedro Suarez and I gladly serve as your Bishop.
Aura: And I am Aura Suarez, serving as a Deacon of the ELCA. It is a pleasure to be with you today. Here are the latest happenings in our synod:
Bishop: In his letter from Birmingham jail, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” End of quote.
Right now, our nation is mourning yet another act of brutality against a black individual. As the ELCA, we strongly condemn white supremacy and all acts of violence against people of color and those whose language is other than English. We will continue to advocate for justice for people of color and those whose language is other than English, especially the black and brown communities at this time.
We mourn the killing of Mr. George Floyd. We lift our prayers for his family, and we join them and the Minneapolis community in calling for justice. We join our prayers with all those across our nation and our world fighting against prejudice, racism, violence, and hate. At the same time, we do not condone acts of vandalism. And we clearly understand that generalizing is also hurtful.
Bishop: Most police officers do not use brutality, just as most black people are not thugs, all Latinos are not criminals, not all people from the Middle East are terrorists, and not all white people are racists. Together as allies, we are the majority.
Aura: Meanwhile at our local level, we want to recognize the hard work of our pastors, deacons, congregational council members, and other church leaders as we continue to battle against COVID-19. Our leaders are doing an incredible job meeting the needs of their churches and communities. We encourage members of our congregations to reach out and support our leaders. You could send an encouraging email, call them on the phone to check in, or find another safe way to send them love.
Most importantly, we remind our congregation members that the best way to support your church leaders at this time is to offer them understanding, respect, patience, and prayer during these difficult weeks. We know some of our churches have chosen to open and gather for in-person worship again. Know that we are praying for you and encourage you to always follow best practice guidelines for safe worship.
If you have any questions or would like any guidance on your health and safety plan, please contact the synod office.
Bishop: If your congregation has received funding from our COVID-19 grant, I encourage you to submit your stories of success, so that we may share your story throughout our synod and let our members see the positive impact of their generosity. These stories can be very encouraging to our members across the synod. For example, Our Savior Lutheran Church in Tampa, with the funding granted through the United as One appeal, are able to re-open their food pantry this coming weekend. Praise God!
Aura: We are looking forward to this Friday, June 5th at 1:00 PM, when we will be hosting a very special webinar. Bishop Suarez is excited to have the opportunity to share his Synod Address with our Rostered Ministers via Zoom. All active Rostered Ministers are invited and encouraged to attend. There will be an opportunity to submit your questions, comments, concerns, or joys. He will address a few of them live and the others in the coming days to follow.
All active rostered leaders will need to register for this event. A registration link will be sent to you shortly. After you register you will receive a confirmation email with the zoom link to join the meeting. In order to include lay people, the webinar will be carried live on Facebook and no registration is required for that. It will be on the Florida-Bahamas Synod Facebook page.
Bishop: Please continue to pray for our synod staff and for my wife and I, as we seek new ways to stay connected and work for you. I celebrate with you the many ways we live our lives together as the Florida-Bahamas Synod! Thank you!
Aura: And thank you for your support to these informational efforts. Please leave us a comment below or subscribe to this channel. It means a lot to us.
Bishop: Until next time, keep serving the Lord!
+ Bp. Pedro
The Rev. Pedro M. Suarez, Bishop
Florida-Bahamas Synod, ELCA