Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

God's work. Our hands.

Bookmark and Share

August 2013 Archive for Bishop's Message

RSS By: Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo




"Bridges Not Walls" 


"Puentes No Fronteras"



Grace and peace to you in the Name of Jesus as we enter 2018 together!


We are on the bridge - on many different bridges, to be frank. Transitions and changes surround us. So, I invite you to look back with me at two parts of our life together as a Synod that will have lasting impact. 


The Commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, "Reformation 500: Committed to Unity in Christ", on November 1 and in a variety of other events, marked this great year. At this Eucharist, we turned a page in our ecumenical and interfaith relationships. The response from various communions has pointed to a desire to join us on this bridge and work at tearing down walls that divide. I am pledged to lead us in these efforts drawing on the great spirit experienced at our remarkable commemoration. 




The second part of the new vision I have coming across the bridge into 2018 is our renewed and renewing commitment to various issues of immigration and welcoming of all people into our country and our churches. The SENT Committee is working hard at making the renewal happen and I pledge to be at the center of these efforts. Not only are we called to build bridges; we are also called to break down divisions by active participation in our communities at all levels. Lutherans have been central to the work of immigration justice for decades; it is an even greater need today. 


These two gifts from 2017 will continue to guide our efforts in 2018. Our unity as a Synod is a tremendous gift from God and together we will, by God's grace and power, cross these bridges into a bright future together.


A blessed New Year to all of you!



+ Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

Metropolitan New York Synod, ELCA


















Finding Faith in an Age of Terror


This time of year, in a culture facing terror of all sorts, many people are wanting to find faith. I think a better way to approach this is to be in places where faith can find us. I’m not simply writing to invite you to a mosque or synagogue or church – although it would be great to see you there. I’m inviting you to places where people of faith gather. And, just to be clear, those are by no means restricted to houses of worship.


To be sure, there are plenty of those places available. On Christmas Eve I expect churches to be full. And I expect many who will sing "Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful" will be those who are simply wanting to be faithful, if only for an hour…or wanting to be more faithful because of what they are fearing. And that will be true not only of the Lutherans I represent.


The faith we seek to make available to people, the faithful community we will enter, are gifts from God. This faith and these people are marked by certain characteristics we need for the common good.


You may know that Lutherans are completing a year of grand celebrations surrounding the 500th Anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. What I am hoping is that in the coming years we will move from that historic grounding we have commemorated toward greater cooperation with people of faith in ecumenical and inter-religious movements.


There is a great commitment among leaders of various communities of faith to engage progressive advances at the grassroots level, to promote tolerance, and to encourage people to flourish in a new and needed age of community. The amazing strides between Lutherans and Roman Catholics point to this.


There is a strong desire and willingness to work on welcoming all people in a spirit of generous hospitality. As a Lutheran I can say that many of my tribe are engaged in ministry with the LGBTQ communities. In our own Synod here in Metropolitan New York, we are working to address the systemic racism which is America’s original sin. We are strongly speaking out in opposition to the anti-Semitism and Islamophobia all around us. We are engaged with faithful people in our own country and around the world in addressing the abuses of power we see every day.


There are remarkable efforts at offering God’s welcome to immigrants and asylum-seekers and refugees, though we certainly look for more such opportunities in the face of governmental resistance. We will work actively to participate in inclusive welcome, as our Lord Jesus was himself a refugee.


There are local congregations in which people of faith are welcoming people of all races and nations, one of the great gifts of the amazing communities in which we live. We are striving to welcome the stranger without fear but with the same kind of faith that our ancestors experienced when they reached these shores and were welcomed by the first nations people.


There is a commitment to practicing a faith that is intimately connected with "peace on earth," the gift of wholeness that is truly the meaning of shalom.       


There is, in our churches and in many other religious communities, a welcome to the open table of God’s Reign where all can gather together.


And while we do not have all the answers, of course, we are faithful in responding to the terror all around, knowing that God is with us and guiding us into a new day of faith when war and hardship and suffering and oppression will be no more.


This is pious language. True words. What I am calling the synod I serve as bishop to do is to put these words into action for such a time as this. And I invite you to join me as faith discovers us together again and again.



Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

Metropolitan New York Synod




Always being made new

Aug 22, 2013

I love assemblies, even those I have the privilege of chairing! And I loved being in Pittsburgh for the 2013 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. A major part of the reason I love synod and churchwide assemblies is the palpable presence of the Holy Spirit I feel in those gatherings. Truly.

We were served by the presence of these voting members – among the 952 total voting members – from our Metropolitan New York Synod: Pr. William Baum; Pr. Perucy Butiku; Ms. Christine Connell, Diaconal Minister; Ms. Maria Del Toro, Synod Vice-President (who had to leave early and was replaced by Ms. Lois Rimbo); Dcn. Meg Fielding; Mr. John Heidgerd; Ms. Elizabeth Hoffmann; Pr. Brenda Irving; Pr. Kathleen Koran; Dcn. Paul Lumpkin; Dcn. John Malone; Pr. Craig Miller; Ms. Marie Plaisir; Dcn. John Prosen; Mr. Marc Stutzel; Dcn. Anita Williams; and Bishop Robert Rimbo.

I always remind voting members before the assembly that they are there to vote according to their consciences; they are not "representatives" of their home congregations, their families, or their synod. With that kind of openness, very interesting things happen. And it was so in Pittsburgh.

I know that you have already seen reports from our Churchwide Assembly in our synod e-letter and through other sources, but I want to offer some reflections from my point of view.

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod, was elected presiding bishop. This was a surprise to many, including me, because I expected that Bp. Mark Hanson would be re-elected to a third term. I want to tell you that I did not sense, nor do I sense now, that it was a vote against Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson. I believe the assembly was simply doing its work, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in prayerful deliberation. I count Bp. Eaton among my friends (as I count Bp. Hanson); I am personally pleased with this election.   

Pr. Wm. Chris Boerger, former bishop in Seattle who completed that ministry (after twelve years) because of term limits in that synod, was elected secretary of this church. I have known Chris for years and believe he will serve us well, filling the shoes of David Swartling who will, in an interesting turn of events, move back to Seattle.

We adopted a social statement on criminal justice, The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries. I am pleased with the statement and especially pleased that the assembly amended it to include specific material with regard to gun violence. It calls us to ministry to those affected in every way by criminal activity – offender and victim, law enforcement officers and court officials – and recommits us to working at correcting our flawed criminal justice system.

We enthusiastically supported the continuation of the Book of Faith initiative which encourages us to continue to become "fluent" in the language of Scripture and engage in Bible study in every possible way.

The assembly also adopted a proposal for the ELCA’s first major fundraising campaign, approved the churchwide budget for fiscal years 2014-2016, and elected people to serve on a great variety of committees.

I have often said that the true "business" of any assembly is done in the hallways, at the tables of shared meals, and in one-to-one conversations. That was clearly the case for this wonderful assembly. But what was more clear to me than at any previous Churchwide Assembly was the centrality of our daily worship and our frequent praying. There was a sense of being "settled" and pleased to be together, gathered at the Lord’s Table and at our various tables. I return from this church assembly with a great sense of well-being for our Evangelical Lutheran Church in America which is always being made new.

Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

Pastoral letter on race in the wake of the Trayvon Martin murder trial

Aug 12, 2013


Sisters and Brothers in Christ:


As you know, I have made an effort to be transparent in my communications with you and my leadership as your bishop. Sometimes it is easier to do than other times. This letter is coming to you at a time when it is difficult.


I was personally shocked by the results of the trial of George Zimmerman, murderer of young Trayvon Martin. I know many of you shared that shock. Yet I was slow in responding to it in any public way because the justice system seemed to work legally. (Remember: this is the opinion of one person with which many would disagree.)


Two things about this case particularly trouble me.


First, the "sign" it is of what I know to be abuse of power. I am not accusing the judge or jury of this abuse. I am saying that the murder of any person is, ultimately, a matter of misuse of power.


Second, and most important for us as the church, is the ongoing racism that infects our society and our various communities, including the church. So I invite you into a conversation about this set of issues.


I point you to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s social statement, Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture which was adopted by the Churchwide Assembly in 1993. But more than simply directing you toward that statement, I would invite you to use it as a guide for continuing conversation in your congregations and your homes.


I am also asking the Synod Council to give thought to how we might, together, address the reality of racism in our own synod in a more direct way. This is in keeping with our Strategic Plan, especially the Sent Committee. I expect that we will also work with our synod’s Multicultural Commission, our synod’s Working Group for Racial, Ethnic and Cultural Sensitivity and Awareness, and our ethnic ministry groups toward this goal of greater understanding of the wonderful gift of diversity.


I also realize that one of the "charges" brought against the Lutheran church is that we over-study and do not act. So I am hoping that the Synod Council and these other leaders will help me and all of us toward a more active response to the racism that surrounds us.


This does not help undo what I see as a terrible tragedy, the death of Trayvon Martin. It does not address what I consider to be an injustice of a broken legal system. But I hope that, in some small way, we as the church can help address the unrest it has rightly caused and work toward the common good of all people.


Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo



disaster relief
Connect and Share on Facebook

mnys is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

© 2011 MNYS. All Rights Reserved.

Web site design and development by Americaneagle.com