Congratulations and welcome to the new, Oregon Synod Bishop Elect Laurie Larson Caesar! Bishop Elect Laurie will being her work August 1, 2019.
CHICAGO – The Rev. Laurie A. Larson Caesar, Portland, was elected May 11 to serve a six-year term as bishop of the Oregon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The election took place during the Synod Assembly, held May 10-12 at the Graduate Hotel in Eugene.
Larson Caesar was elected on the fifth ballot, with 164 votes. The Rev. David Brauer-Rieke, bishop of the ELCA Oregon Synod since 2007, received 118.
The bishop-elect has served as pastor of Spirit of Grace Lutheran Church in Beaverton since 1996.
Larson Caesar received a Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., in 1988 and a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School in 1992.
Larson Caesar will be installed Dec. 14, 2019 at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Portland.
The Juliana vs. United States court hearing has been rescheduled and is now on the court’s docket for 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 4. The Our Children’s Trust rally to support the hearing and the plaintiffs is now scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. in Director Park.
(What is this?)
If you wish to participate:
- Bring your folks to Director Park in Portland with signs and clergy vestments no later than 2:30 pm, assembling in designated area for the faith community
- Encourage folks to sign in to watch the live stream of the hearing on their devices and/or watch the live stream at the rally beginning at 2:00 p.m
- Make 10 second videos in your congregation/community saying that your community supports the Juliana youth plaintiffs and upload your video on the EcoFaith Recovery website by June 2 at 2 p.m.
We have been notified that everyone is being encouraged to sign in to watch the live stream of the hearing on their devices in order to try to get the largest count ever of people watching the live-stream of a hearing. To sign in to watch the live stream, click on this link. And the other way to have the greatest impact is to make those videos of your faith community’s support for the plaintiffs which will be shown at the rally and on social media.
Living at the “convergence of opportunity, need and change” the Oregon Synod voted May 11, 2019 to call the Rev. Laurie Larson Caesar to the office of synodical bishop. Congratulations to our new Bishop Elect! She will assume her office August 1, 2019.
The picture to the left is of the former Elwha Dam in Washington State. It was removed in 2012 to restore natural fish habitat and it is the largest dam removal in U.S. history (click on photo for video.) Assistant to the Bishop Susan Kintner made reference to this achievement in her Mother’s Day Synod Assembly sermon May 12. This removal is a good example of the convergence of opportunity, need and change. Salmon runs have been strengthened. Indian lands restored. And a source of cheap, hydro electric power has been sacrificed. That is to be expected. There are always trade offs when needs and opportunity collide.
What I remember most from Rev. Kintner’s sermon, however, was a side note. She stating that once the dam was broken the river could no longer be guaranteed to stay in its banks. Such is the challenge and beauty of the wild. Yet, surely there is no joy like seeing salmon fight their way upstream to fulfill their God given calling! So it is in our lives, and so it will be in the months to come.
As a synod we now embark on a new journey. I had frankly hoped to serve as your bishop a while longer and kayak the wild waters of the new with you. But that’s okay. This call makes sense as we are indeed at a pivotal time of transition.
Bishop Elect Laurie and I had lunch last Thursday. We have committed to each other to meet weekly from now through July 31 to attend to the various opportunities of transition. My staff and I are committed to doing all we can to make this shift as seamless as possible. At the same time, learning the rhythms of a new job at this wonderful convergence will be challenging for our new bishop. Our synod has lots of balls in the air and some will certainly drop. That’s okay, though. Most balls bounce, and I know you will care for one another as the river flows around our feet.
Over the next month we will attend to matters of staffing, of stabilizing our grant supported ministries, and continuing the work of transition in congregations. August 4-10, 2019 Bishop Elect Laurie and other members of our synod will be off to Milwaukee, WI for our ELCA Churchwide Assembly. The office of bishop is much more than just our wonderful work here in Oregon. Bishop Elect Laurie will now share in the leadership of the larger church, involve herself with universities and seminaries of the ELCA, and be a liaison for us all with ministries such as Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Lutheran World Relief and Lutheran Community Services. I am thrilled for her, and for us all, as I know we will be will served and well represented.
Also at our Assembly last week we called Greg Shea to the office of Synod Vice President. Greg is a current Synod Council member and participant with our Mission Table. He is a gifted leader and careful thinker. Greg and our new Bishop Elect will certainly be a pair to draw to, and Greg will also be traveling to Milwaukee for the ELCA Churchwide Assembly. Debby Chenoweth, who now finishes 8 years of service as our former Synod Vice President, has been a gift to us all. She has certainly been a joy for me to work with. Thank you Debby. Thank you Greg. Thank Bishop Elect Laurie.
As for me, I am finding peace in the singular focus and call to get our new Bishop Elect ready to serve. Come August 1 I will hand over the keys to the synod office and head to the hills. Gretchen and I are looking forward to some welcome relaxation and recreation. Come fall I will see what the Spirit has in store. Retirement is not yet my goal. Continued service is.
Next month will be the last of what I have planned as five monthly letters about vision and transition for the synod. We will know more at that time about ministry direction, needs, staffing and our hopes and dreams. Please be patient. For now I ask that you keep Bishop Elect Laurie and our new Vice President Greg Shea in your prayers. These are exciting times, but I am not at all sure which banks the mighty Elwha might yet choose to challenge.
Just watch for the salmon!
Bp. Dave Brauer-Rieke
Find us at https://vimeo.com/event/7159. The Oregon Synod Assembly will be live streamed beginning with our keynote address Friday, May 10 at 7:00 PM. Live streaming will continue Saturday, May 11 8:30 AM-8:00 PM and Sunday, May 12 8:30 AM-11:30 AM.
- Keynote Address, Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, CEO/President of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. Friday, May 10, 7-8 PM
- Assembly business and Bishop election process, Saturday, May 11, 8:30 AM – 5 PM
- Synod Assembly Banquet honoring of clergy years of service and thank yous to Synod Staff. Saturday, 6:45-8 PM
- Assembly business, Churchwide Report and closing worship, Sunday, May 12, 8:30-11:30 AM
I had the opportunity to chat with Sen. Merkley today during an office open house. The ELCA has been advocating on the Hill this week around Disaster Response to Climate Change related catastrophies. Jeff, course, is an Oregon Synod, ELCA, Lutheran and reflects our values courageously in the Senate. I told him our prayers are with he and his staff and thank you, thank you, thank you for working so hard in difficult days. – Bp. Dave
While my ELCA colleauges are advocating on the Hill today I have been asked to represent our church at the American Climate Leadership Summit. A much different venue, feel and effort. (More swank!) Great beginning, though. I’ll let you know how the next two days go. – Bp. Dave
“What is past is prologue.” Bp. Brauer-Rieke is in Washington D.C. this week for ELCA Advocacy. Our advocates are focusing on climate change related disasters, working with our congressional representatives on root causes of migration, and hurricane, flood and drought concerns for us in the U.S. See (and like) the Oregon Synod ELCA Facebook page for current updates.
“Christ has risen! He has risen indeed! Alleluia!!”
My wife Gretchen is an end of life advance planner. If she has been to your congregation you know her passion is for a full life and a dignified death. Once the question of healers was “How can we keep this person alive?” Now, when doctors can do so much, the question often is, “When does fighting death rob us of life?” Gretchen will tell you that you have choices you make, and that now is the time to make them. If you choose and plan, your dying will be a gift to you and all whom you love. If you don’t choose, your opportunity for a good death may disappear.
Christians do not fear death. Christians see in death the door to eternal life. It is not simply that we do not fear death, though. It is actually the case that we long for the more. In Christ we know that our life today is a glimpse of a greater gift yet to come tomorrow. This is what resurrection means. It is the promise of more.
Living at the “convergence of opportunity, need and change” as we do requires that we remember the giftedness of both life and death. If we forget either, the half-life we cling to will fail us. Fighting death can rob us of life. Do you believe that? I do. Jesus invites us to take up our cross and follow. That’s what this is about.
So, how are we called to die? Let me speak as plainly as I can.
- I am of German descent. Experts anticipate that by 2050 the majority of U.S. citizens will no longer be of European descent – which is to say “White.” For some this is of concern. But why? It should not be! The Gospel did not start with Europeans and it is not dependent upon Europeans. “Red and yellow, black and white” as the old Sunday School song goes, “All are precious in God’s sight!” We must die to systemic racism if we wish to live. Right now, white-supremacy is a threat not only to our nation, but to our world. We must speak to this.
- Part of the presumption of White privilege is that all Americans should speak English. We do not, and we never have. My great grandparents never learned to speak English, and they lived in this country for several decades. The same is true for lots of Lutherans. It is not an imposition on me that I should have the opportunity to learn the language of new neighbors. Language is a gift. En Oregon hoy la capacidad de hablar español es un regalo. You could learn another language if you wanted to. So could I. Doing so would help our witness. We are called to die to ethno-centrism, and this is not new for those who would proclaim the Gospel.
- Congregations, like people, have a life span. Some small, rural Oregon towns struggle for survival. Many have Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, UCC and Episcopalian congregations all too small for effective ministry. Cities like Portland, Salem and Eugene may have multiple congregations of the same denomination. We can certainly do more together than they can alone.
Two Oregon Synod congregations have celebrated the completion of their ministries and closed since the Oregon Synod was formed in 1988. Bethlehem Lutheran in Portland returned their property to the synod to become a vital house church, not dying but choosing a new life. Their faithfulness has made new ministry possible. Redeemer Lutheran in Portland chose to die to be reborn as Salt and Light. Several synod congregations have merged over the last 30 years also ‘dying to live.’
There will be more ‘completions of ministry’ to celebrate in the decade ahead. Some will be sad. Others will be forward looking. Some may fight death to the point that they rob life. I am thankful to have both Health Insurance and some money in the bank. If I had an illness that was treatable I would use these resources for that purpose. However, I do not fear death and when my time comes I will not rob my children and grandchildren of what ought to be theirs.
With Gretchen I seek the fulness of life and a dignified and timely death. We should not fear this conversation. Death is not failure, not for us as individuals and not for us as congregations. I am never looking to close congregations. Yet when our life is done, we should return to God that with which we have been entrusted.
- Faith, and the way it is expressed by our children, is, and will be, different. At the “convergence of opportunity, need and change” we experience a tectonic shift. We are not all able to understand it. Perhaps none of us can. Yet, we have Oregon pioneers who have scoped out the Promised Land and go ahead of us. Creative synod ministries such as Wilderness Way, Together Lab, The Flame, our Mid-Willamette Latino Outreach, Story Dwelling and more have found Jesus waiting for them in the tomorrow we do not yet know. They offer us hope, wholeness and joy. In many and various ways we may feel called to die to some aspects of what has been. That is okay. What will be is glorious.
How, then, shall we talk about the change before us? What words shall we use to talk about life and death? We are children of the resurrection. Life, death and life are our story and our faith. Change is not failure. A book has chapters. Characters come and go throughout a story. The gift we have in Christ is the certainty that Creation belongs to God, and not just us. For us Creation is gift. For God it is victory. Ours is to have, to hold, to steward, love and release. God’s is to direct, to assure and fulfill.
Do not fear for tomorrow, for tomorrow belongs to the Lord. Watch with wonder. Live with awe and anticipation, for “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”
Bp. Dave Brauer-Rieke
In her Easter message, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), reminds us that Easter makes it possible, even at the grave, to sing alleluia.
Listen to Eaton’s message.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.5 million members in more than 9,100 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God’s work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA’s roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Candice Hill Buchbinder
PRE-REGISTRATION is required for all who wish to attend our May 10-12, 2019 Oregon Synod Assembly. Register Here. Housing is separate from general registration. We are now on our third, overflow, motel. You can reserve a room here. These rooms are at the Even Motel in Eugene and our synod rate is $154. Use the “Book Now” box at the top, right hand side of the page and fill in your choices from there.