Hello and welcome to this Florida-Bahamas Synod update! Thank you for joining me today for these special messages.
First, I want to share a brief update on our United As One COVID-19 Relief Grant. Our United As One campaign continues to help those effected by COVID-19, including mercy ministries. In a clip from Spirit of Life in Jacksonville, you can see the impact your gifts make on their food pantry. Through this campaign, we’re able to help our ministries stay strong and continue serving their communities even during these difficult times.
Many organizations in our nation are facing financial difficulties due to COVID-19. Novus Way is one such organization. Their Luther Springs camp holds a special place in our hearts here in the Florida-Bahamas Synod, and recently, our entire synod council and synod staff participated in Luther Spring’s Day of Giving. Our synod council also decided to give Luther Springs a $5,000 gift, and most of us are still give monthly through our online giving options on our Florida-Bahamas Synod webpage.
If you would like to join us in our support for Novus Way and Luther Springs during this time, please visit their websites at luthersprings.org or novusway.org.
We’ve had some great Zoom events for our synod recently! On September 17, we hosted a Rostered Ministers Zoom Gathering to discuss Holy Communion practices during COVID-19. A full recorded version of that meeting is available! Visit our website and find the event listed under our Events tab.
We also hosted another Let’s Talk Youth Check-In with our synod youth members! Check it out! It was a great event. Our next Let’s Talk Youth Event will be held on November 1st, so stay tuned for more info on registering!
We also have an important Zoom event coming up on October 8th. I’m inviting all our pastors, teachers, administrators, and anyone serving a congregation with a school to join us for a special Zoom conference on Best Practices for Reopening Our Schools. You can find a registration link in E-Spirit this week, or on our website.
Speaking of reopening, I’m sure you’ve heard that on Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis moved the state of Florida in Phase 3 of reopening. I know many of you have questions about resuming in-person worship. If you choose to begin meeting in-person again, I urge you to take every precaution to guarantee the safety of your congregations. For more information, please see my written statement in E-Spirit or on our website.
As Election Day draws closer, you may be getting questions about permitted political activity for churches. The ELCA offers several resources on political activity on their website, and I encourage you to check them out. The short answer is this: congregations cannot support or endorse candidates for office, but they can support neutral political activity, like being a polling place and encouraging voter registration. Pastors and other church employees can personally endorse or support candidates, but only if it is clear that they are acting in their personal capacity and not in their capacity as a leader or employee of the congregation. If you have any questions about this, please contact the Office of the Bishop.
Next, I want to share a few updates from our Global Mission partners. Despite the limitations on travel, the Haiti Team remains closely connected to the Eglise Lutherienne d’Haiti led by Rev. Joseph Livenson Lauvanus. Recently Pastor Livenson reported on the progress of a goat project funded through a generous donation made by Hope Lutheran Church in The Villages. Families in the communities of Jean Rabel and Baraderes were given goats to breed and sell, thus strengthening their financial livelihood and sustainability. While the goat population continues to struggle due to continuing storms and hurricanes, some 60 families have benefitted from the project.
And I have an update from our partners in Cuba! (To hear this update, please watch the synod update video.)
Finally, I’m very interested to hear all the wonderful ways your congregation took part in the “God’s Work. Our hands.” Day of Service on September 13. If you have a story to share with our synod, please send it to our Communications specialist Marina Ernst at firstname.lastname@example.org.
+ Bishop Pedro Suarez
Florida-Bahamas Synod, ELCA