December 2014 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




A call for reconciliation

Dec 22, 2014

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." John 1:5

That statement is sometimes difficult for us to believe, yet it stands as the truth central to this holy season. I write to you, the congregations and leaders of the Metropolitan New York Synod with deep sorrow and with the request for your prayers.

On behalf of Lutherans in the New York City area, I extend sympathy and condolences to the families of Officer Liu and Officer Ramos who were murdered in Bedford-Stuyvesant this past Saturday. These tragic deaths weigh on my heart and soul. I ask all of you to pray for their families and their colleagues in the Police Department. I ask you, also, to pray for our civic leaders.

I pray the ancient words of hope for these two public servants: may they both rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon them.  

This unprovoked, evil, irrational act on the part of Mr. Brinsley is beyond understanding. It points to the need for reason, compassion, love and wisdom in our dealing with all people. It calls us to work for reconciliation in our communities. It reminds us of our need for hope and light in our world.

Speaking on behalf of the Metropolitan New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I offer the assurance of our prayers that peace and justice will prevail and the light will continue to shine in the darkness.




"La luz alumbra en la oscuridad, ¡y nada puede destruirla!" Juan 1:5


Esta declaración es en ocasiones difícil de creer, y sin embargo, prevalece como la verdad central de este temporada santa. Me dirijo a ti, a las congregaciones y a los líderes del Sínodo Metropolitano de Nueva York embargado por un profundo dolor y pidiendo por sus oraciones.


En nombre de los luteranos del área de Nueva York, quiero extender mis condolencias y simpatía a los familiares de los Oficiales Liu y Ramos, quienes fueron asesinados en Bedford-Stuyvesant este pasado sábado. Estas trágicas muertes pesan en mi corazón y alma. Les pido a todos ustedes que oren por sus familias y colegas del Departamento de Policía. Les pido, también, orar por nuestros líderes cívicos.


Rezo con las palabras antiguas de esperanza para estos dos funcionarios públicos: que ambos descansen en paz y que la luz perpetua brille sobre ellos.


Este acto irracional, malvado y sin provocación alguna por parte del señor Brinsley va más allá de nuestra comprensión. Apunta a la necesidad de razón, compasión, amor y sabiduría en nuestra forma de tratar con la gente. Nos llama a trabajar por una reconciliación entre nuestras comunidades. Nos recuerda de nuestra necesidad por esperanza y luz en nuestro mundo.


Hablando en nombre del Sínodo Metropolitano de Nueva York, miembro de la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en América, les ofrezco el testimonio de nuestras oraciones de que la paz y la justicia prevalecerán y la luz continuará alumbrando en la obscuridad. 


Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo


Greeting shared at Misa – Our Lady of Guadalupe

Dec 11, 2014

Sion Iglesia Luterana
Saint Peter’s Church, Manhattan

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I am very pleased to be with you this evening and to greet you on behalf of the congregations, pastors and leaders, and various ministries of the Metropolitan New York Synod.

It is always a pleasure to be welcome by the congregation here at Sion.

This is also a great opportunity fro me to recognize the Tenth Anniversary of Ordination of Padre Eduardo Fabian Arias.

These are very difficult days for all of us. I am, of course, aware of and troubled by the events in Ferguson and Staten Island, and I am deeply troubled by the deaths of students and the possible captivity of the 43 missing persons in Mexico.

With you, I join in saying "Ya Me Cansé –This Stops Today. I am tired of it."

The death of any person–especially when it is caused by agents of the state or the government–is very painful, whether in Mexico or in Palestine and Israel or in Missouri or in New York.

But you and I know that we follow Jesus Christ who faced such a death himself, and we know that his death ultimately led to resurrection and new life.

Jesus Christ promises the same new life to us, in the midst of our brokenness and our sorrow.

Tonight as we build this altar to remember victims of these tragedies, let us, above all, remember that Christ, the Son of God and the Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, bring us life.

As we gather to celebrate this Misa, we will remember him and his great and never-failing love for us.

The peace of the Lord be with you always.



Queridas hermanas y hermanos,

Estoy muy contento de estar aquí entre ustedes y de saludarlos en nombre de las congregaciones, sus líderes y sus pastores, así como de varios ministros del Sínodo Metropolitano de Nueva York.

Cómo siempre, es un placer ser tan bien recibido por la comunidad de Sion.

Está es también una gran oportunidad para recordar el 10º Aniversario de Ordenación Pastoral del Padre Eduardo Fabián Arias.

Estos son tiempos muy difíciles para todos nosotros. Yo estoy, por supuesto, al tanto de los eventos sucedidos en Ferguson y Staten Island, y estoy especialmente consternado por las muertes de los estudiantes –o posible cautiverio– de los 43 desaparecidos en México.

Junto con ustedes, yo me uno al decir "Ya me cansé – This stops today. I am tired of it".

La muerte de cualquier persona –especialmente cuando ésta, es causada por agentes del estado o del gobierno– es en extremo dolorosa, ya sea en México o en Palestina e Israel, o en Missouri, o en Nueva York.

Pero ustedes y yo sabemos que nosotros seguimos a Cristo quién en sí mismo sufrió una muerte verdaderamente trágica, y sabemos que ultimadamente su muerte nos guía a la resurrección y a la vida nueva.

Jesús Cristo nos promete esa misma vida nueva a nosotros, en medio de todas nuestras tristezas y dolor.

Esta noche, al momento de construir este altar en memoria de las víctimas de estas tragedias, permitámonos sobre todo recordar que Cristo, el hijo de Dios y el hijo de la Santa Virgen María, nos brinda vida.

Al reunirnos ahora a celebrar esta misa, nosotros lo recordamos, así como al infalible gran amor que él nos tiene.

La paz del Seños esté siempre con ustedes.

Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

A pastoral letter regarding racism

Dec 08, 2014

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:


"A voice says, ‘Cry out!’


And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’"


Isaiah, in chapter 40, wasn’t the last person to ask that question. It’s a haunting, even troubling question in these particular Advent days. It’s hard to cry out when you can’t breathe.  


The events of these last days have come especially close to home. The decision surrounding the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was one thing. I left the response to that sadness to our presiding bishop. But this decision, about the homicide of Eric Garner, was local, made by a grand jury on Staten Island, close to home, so close it is hard to breathe.   


What shall we cry?


"Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God," to be sure. But no matter whether we all agree on the question of justice in these cases, I think it is time for us to stand up, breathe deeply together, and stop simply talking about the racism that is profoundly present in our lives, our cities, our world, our church. It is time for us to lift up our voice with strength, as Isaiah says, but to do more than just talk about it. It is time to do more than simply cry.


This past Saturday, December 6, the Sent Committee of our strategic plan was in conversation with me about how that action in our synod might start. Next Tuesday, December 16, I will encourage our Synod Council to consider what next steps we should take. It is clear that the first step will be a Service for Justice the afternoon of January 17, 2015. The place is yet to be determined but we will announce that as soon as possible. This will be the first of a series of events designed to gather any and all members of our synod to take bold, new steps to address the horror of racism.


In the meantime, as your bishop and on behalf of our synod, I will participate in public forums to act and speak for racial justice. I invite you to let me know when such opportunities for public witness are scheduled. I realize that not everyone will agree with my stance; I believe I must act now.  


The closing verses of the first reading for the Second Sunday in Advent (Isaiah 40:1-11), encourage action: get up, lift up your voice, do not fear, say, see, feed, gather, carry, gently lead. That’s what we will do. I hope you will join me.


Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo