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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




Yom Hashoah

May 02, 2011

Dear Sisters and Brothers, especially dear Rabbi Peter, Pastor Amandus, members of this congregation gathered to mark Yom Hashoah: I greet you on behalf of the Metropolitan New York Synod

and the entire Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and our Presiding Bishop, Mark Hanson. The last time I was in Central Synagogue was on October 12, 2008. This house of God was the setting for my installation as the bishop of our synod. Thank you again for your most gracious hospitality. What grand memories!


I bring other memories, as do all of you, as we gather here this evening to mark Yom Hashoah, twenty five years of memories and they remain demanding, harsh in the pitiless light they cast.


I remember Marc Tanenbaum confronting Christians with a searing question: How was it possible “in a country which, when it vaunted its great values and its great moral traditions, spoke of itself as a country of ancient Christian culture,” how was it possible “for millions of Christians to sit by as spectators while millions of human beings, who were their brothers and sisters…were carted out to their death in the most brutal, inhuman, uncivilized ways.” I remember those words tonight.


I remember ancient prayers for Good Friday which now, thank God, have been changed to warm thanksgiving for you, our Jewish sisters and brothers, the first to hear the word of God.  


I remember ghettos structured by Christians, forced baptisms, Crusades to liberate holy places, Good Friday pogroms, exiles, Dachau and Auschwitz.  


I remember the turned backs of my Christian sisters or brothers, the shoulders shrugged, the sneers and slaps and curses.  


I remember that there is a generation of Christians who have grown up for whom “Holocaust” is a word and little more – as vague and transient as the War of 1812 or the Battle of San Juan Hill.


I remember a letter I once read in the newspaper of a Christian college in which the student writer claimed that the Holocaust never took place; it was a fiction, pure and simple.


And tonight I remember Elie Wiesel’s warning: To forget is to become the executioner’s accomplice.   


I remember these things tonight with you. I repent of these great tragedies. I rejoice in our Lutheran church’s desire to redress the terrible teachings of our ancestors and come to our Jewish sisters and brothers ever seeking reconciliation.


So this is what I pray as we gather: If our sin-scarred, tear-drenched, blood-stained earth is ever to enjoy a measure of peace, I pray that justice will be joined to reconciliation, to unity. I thank you, the people of Central Synagogue and Saint Peter’s Church, for teaching us to look at a more distant horizon where hands that have locked in hate are linked in love, where enemies are transformed into friends, and our dearest, deepest yearning is for unity, the unity of all God’s children.


Then our memories will reap their richest reward, we will show that we are faithful to the covenant God made with us, and we will hope again.


Thank you for your witness to all of us.  


Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

Metropolitan New York Synod

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

2 May 2011





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