calendar May 20, 2016 in 2016 Assembly, Assembly, Communications

Still Reforming Assembly Highlights



…Bishop Burkat declared to the 2016 Synod Assembly. More than 500 Lutherans gathered from across Southeastern Pennsylvania to worship, pray, and discern in community explored how we can go outside our doors and listen to our neighbors in ways that are faithful to our 500-year Reformation heritage.

Read on for highlights of our time together at Synod Assembly.

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‘Called to Be a Reforming People’

RedDoors quote300In her opening sermon, Bishop Burkat urged us as people of faith to transcend the climate of fear that lurks outside our church doors. We’re all touched by this anxiety, and people of color, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, refugees and women are targets of misplaced fear, she said.

Yet Lutherans have a word of hope to speak. “Thanks to the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, there is a future of hope and love,” the bishop said. “We are called to be a reforming people.”

To share this hope we are called to get outside our doors and participate in God’s mission to heal, bless and reconcile the world. “This is the reformation that is so needed today,” she said.


Forward Together in Faith

SEPA_FTinFaith_rgb_250This is a reforming moment for the church, as it faces a growing contingent of religiously unaffiliated people, ages among an ever more youthful culture, and experiences dwindling membership and resources. Amid these challenges, “the Holy Spirit is bringing a new dawn for Christ’s church,” Bishop Burkat told the assembly (

Two in three residents of Southeastern Pennsylvania are under the age of 44. “To reach this very young culture we need to change our old church culture now,” the bishop said, not by adjusting the timeless Christian message but by finding new ways and places to connect.

Our Synod’s response to these challenges is the Forward Together in Faith campaign, which will resource our future with $2.5 million to equip leaders for innovative ministry, network us in new ways, and help us communicate God’s story in a digital age.

With nearly $250,000 raised so far and commitments of 100% of Synod Council, deans and staff, the Bishop invited ( rostered leaders, individuals and congregations to prayerfully consider supporting the campaign. To arrange for a Forward Together in Faith ambassador to visit your council or congregation, contact the office at .

The campaign has achieved a number of concrete goals using start-up funds:

  • More than two dozen congregations have participated in mission assessments, and trained facilitators are helping congregations navigate the implications of this data.
  • An innovation grant inspired Christ the King Church of the Deaf to create programs to help resettle deaf and hearing impaired refugees.
  • A communications audit helped Faith, Woodhaven start reshaping its web and social media presence.

Now you can help us help you by giving to the campaign to provide funding to continue these and other initiatives to support congregations. (


See Forward Together in Faith in Action

Here are the stories of three congregations who have benefited from our initial investments from the campaign:

Mission assessment results change UniLu: Communications review inspires Faith, Woodhaven: Living Gospel’s programs change lives:
V2016UniLu V2016Faith V2016LivingGospel


$22,000 Raised for Flint Water Crisis..So Far

The Assembly offering of $5,400 was directed to the work of our domestic partner synod in Southeast Michigan in response to the Flint water crisis. This brings the total raised so far from our Synod to $22,655. Funds will go toward re-plumbing Salem Lutheran in Flint so that it can be a source of safe drinking water to its neighbors.


Reformation 500: ‘Explore, Empower and be Energized’

Stjerna Keynote

Rev. Dr. Kirsi Stjerna of PLTS shares Reformation insights for the future.

The 500th Anniversary of the posting of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses in 2017 calls us not to look backward but ahead to how the church can be a reforming presence in the 21st Century.

“We can’t be in a bubble or our tradition will die,” said the Rev. Dr. Kirsi Stjerna, who teaches Lutheran theology and history at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary.

For Stjerna, key to understanding the Reformation movement are the new understandings that formed the foundation of Lutheran theology: how grace and freedom are connected.  Lutherans have inherited a tradition that promotes equality, freedom, spiritual health, welfare and education of all, and that values children, sexuality and human relations. This tradition calls the church to be very much in the world, totally inclusive and sharing the Gospel with all.


Balanced Budget Approved

2017Budget2The Assembly approved a balanced budget for fiscal 2017 that reflects the continuing decrease in Mission Support contributions from churches. In 2015 Mission Support totaled $1.97 million, a decrease of $180,000 from 2014, reported Treasurer Janet Neff, CPA. The Synod has been responsible managing with diminishing resources, she said. Since 2010, Mission Support has declined 16%, while the Synod has reduced its expenditures 25% over that same period. See more at:


What Did People Experience at Assembly?

From meeting up with friends and colleagues, to inspiring worship, to watching how the Spirit is at work in the energy and dreams people have for our shared ministries, the Assembly offers something for everyone. Watch what participants had to say in this video report from Dan “On-The-Street” Scharnhorst of Bear Creek Camp.