The comments of pre-identified pastors represent their opinions only. —Synod Council Executive Committee.
The Rev. A. David Anglada
Responses to the Document "Listening for Leadership"
Using the descriptions on the "Listening for Leadership" document (Bishop Profile, page 3) share specific examples of how you have served in a PASTORAL role in previous calls, experiences, and leadership:
During my Pastoral Calling at Trinity Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, The Lutheran Church of The Epiphany in Hempstead, and presently at Grace Lutheran Church and School in Malverne, I have defined my “Calling” as a shepherd servant leader. In my capacity as Pastor in my previous and present parishes I have understood my role as the priest of my parish has been informed by “Luther’s Marks of the Church,” where congregational practices are both public and visible. Each of these marks are rooted in Scripture: The Word, Holy Baptism, Eucharist, Forgiveness and Reproof of Sin, Office of the Ministry, Worship, and the Holy Cross.
In addition, my role as a pastor is also to provide pastoral care to my congregants and their family members. My activities also include providing Pastoral care to the infirm, shut-in's and hospice patients by offering a ministry of: presence, listening, prayer, and reading from Scripture. I have also assisted individuals facing end of life by creating sacred space and helping people move from life through death and into their eternal rest.
My calling is as well to be present with parishioners, who are grieving and mourning the loss of a love one. Furthermore, my role as parish and community Priest has been to provide rituals of the church: blessing of animals, homes, and “Quinceanera” or Sweet Sixteen’s, and of course, funerals/burials and marriages.
Equally important is to provide Spiritual Care to community residents who are not active participants in the life of the church. In the three congregations that I have served, I have been intentional in serving the community at large as its local pastor/ “Zip Code Pastor,” as an Honorary Chaplain to both the police and fire department.
As servant/leader, I have embraced team ministry as a paradigm for pastoral leadership. In this approach of congregational leadership, the Pastor accompanies, empowers, and encourages the laity to live out their “Baptismal Calling” in the world.”
Finally, the Pastor is called to be a public square preacher. For the past twenty-three years, I have been bringing sacred texts to the public square to speak out against systemic injustice. We cannot ignore our social realities and be silent on issues of unarmed black youth, and men and women being shot. We cannot ignore the reality of race resentment, Gender-based violence, voter suppression, hate crimes against the Jewish community, Muslims, African Americans, Latinx as well as the LGBTQA+ communities, structural racism, and mass disproportionate incarceration of African American men are on the rise.
Furthermore, we lift up our voices against sexual harassment and misogyny against women. Coupled with advocating for living wages for all workers, and justice for all people regardless of their ethnicity. As a servant/leader I am called to a global leader creating a gorgeous mosaic among all communities.
Using the descriptions on the "Listening for Leadership" document (Bishop Profile, page 3) share specific examples of how you have served in a BRIDGE BUILDER role in previous calls, experiences, and leadership:
Serving as Parish Pastor, Assistant to the Bishop for Evangelical Outreach in The Metropolitan New York Synod and The Florida Bahamas Synod, and as Program Director for Multicultural leadership for ELCA, “Bridge Building” has always been essential in my pastoral ministry. Here are some examples how I have served in a “Bridge Builder” capacity in the life of the Church.
As a Bridge-Building Pastor who has served in various congregations, I have been able to help my parishes deal with the “elephants in the room”: the lack of cultural diversity in leadership roles, racial discrimination, prejudice against poor people, and internal differences within homogeneous groups. All of these mentioned can be destructive in the body of Christ, and cause congregations to build walls and not bridges. By engaging in honest and respectful conversations, I have also assisted parishioners to shift their paradigms to embrace each other as sisters and brothers in Christ.
In addition to this, while serving as Assistant to the Bishop in Metropolitan New York Synod and the Florida Bahamas Synod, I spent numerous evenings working with Church Councils and Conferences, which were predominantly European descent to utilize their existing space to start new ethnic-specific ministries. However, before commencing a new evangelical mission post, we conversed about the pros and the cons of space sharing, cultural sensitivity, and God’s dream for a global church. We also found that eating together, sharing stories, and learning to trust each other was essential to birthing a ministry. One of the most difficult challenges that I have faced was building consensus, among a declining and aging, White congregation, to allow a new African mission-start to share their worship space. After weeks of Bible studies, cultural diversity training, and breaking bread, the elderly congregation embraced their African brothers and sisters as a gift of God to their local congregation. I was also appointed by the MNYS Bishop to be the first Synod staff liaison to the LGBT commission and The Center for Evangelical Outreach. In both ministries of our synod, I participated in recruiting pastors and lay leaders, who held diverse theological, social, and political opinions, in order to fulfill the Synod Council’s mandates.
As a Bridge-building Pastor, I served as Program Director for Multicultural Leadership in the ELCA, bringing African-Americans, Africans from 54 different countries, and Latinos from 20 countries. This meant working together with people, especially those considered as “gate-keepers.” Through meaningful conversations, respectful listening, breaking bread, being transparent, “leveling the playing field,” and inviting participants to welcome diversity and inclusion as gift of God, we were able to launch meaningful leadership projects.
Using the descriptions on the "Listening for Leadership" document (Bishop Profile, page 3) share specific examples of how you have served in a LEADER role in previous calls, experiences, and leadership:
In my present and previous pastorates, one of my roles has been to provide a ministry of accompaniment for my parishioners by walking alongside my congregants during life’s transitions. I recall, that while serving in Trinity Lutheran Church in Sunset Park, a devasting fire killed three young boys from our church.
During this time of crisis and grieving, I provided a pastoral presence and leadership to the sunset park community. While meeting with the family, I was made aware of the family’s financial need to cover funeral and burial services. I was the catalysts for organizing an interfaith and ecumenical memorial service with the help of clergy members, community leaders, and the MNYS conference to raise funds for the funeral expenses. Later, I was chosen by community clergy to deliver the key-note message which was well attended by community residence, clergy, and local elected officials. My message was on “The God of the Cross, Who Accompanies Us In our Suffering,” was well received.
As a pastor leader, I am always mindful that the pastor is not only called to provide spiritual care, but also called to manage unforeseen crises. This past December, a 3-year-old student in our all-day, pre-school program was unresponsive after her nap time. The child was taken to a neighboring hospital. Sadly, the child entered the Church Triumphant two days after leaving our premise. Immediately I set in motion a communication’s protocol, which was disseminated to all staff members, since I anticipated that the media would be arriving within the hour. I also gathered School’s leadership team, and we prayed and planned next steps. Within 45 minutes after the child was transported to the hospital, four television and two newspaper reporters arrived at our doorsteps. Our protocol, developed by my leadership team and I, spelled out the following: the pastor is the only authorized spoke-person that will represent Grace Lutheran Church and school to the media, transparency is paramount so that what transpired remains truthful and factual, respect the child’s and parent’s identity by not providing the child’s name to the media, only provide information we want to be published or broadcasted so that we will control the narrative verses having the media control our message.
Our messaging to the media was informative and truthful; we shared our Lutheran faith values, we asked the public to pray for the child and family members and our staff. Additionally, we invited parents to have a conversation with us. Over and above this, Lutheran Counseling Services provided much-needed support to staff members, parents and a student. At present we maintain our student population of three-hundred and one student’s.
Using the descriptions on the "Listening for Leadership" document (Bishop Profile, page 3) share specific examples of how you have served in a ADMINISTRATOR role in previous calls, experiences, and leadership:
My experiences as an administrator stretches back before my ordination as Pastor of Word Sacrament: I served as the Director for Toro College Sunset Park Center (Junior College) in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, with 15 faculty members and 228 adult students. I worked closely with the academic dean, Student’s Council, and The Sunset Park TCC Advisory Board. During my tenure at TCC in Sunset Park, I was focused on creating a culture of trust and forming effective working teams composed of faculty and staff members.
Some of the achievements we accomplished were as follow: we shift our annual budgeting methods from Incremental budgeting to Zero-based budgeting (similar to a faith-based-budget) which saved us thousands of dollars annually. Secondly, we succeeded in having a multi-cultural staff from various ethnic backgrounds; we celebrated diversity and inclusion. Thirdly, we scheduled quarterly professional staff development days for example: “Resolving Conflicts, as well as “Working in Teams/Teams that Click,” as well as Stephen C. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Effective People.”
In my previous roles as Assistant to Bishop for Evangelical Outreach in the Metropolitan New York Synod and The Florida Bahamas Synod, my work portfolio included new mission starts and congregational renewal. Equally vital was communicating to our congregations of the need for prayer partners, financial support and celebrating new mission starts and existing congregations who embrace a path for renewal. In my capacity as Assistant to the Bishop in New York and in Florida, I was instrumental in helping “New Start Ministries and “Restart Congregations” in their missional strategical plans with evidence-based outcomes, Congregational Marketing, and Asset Mapping.
In my present role as Pastor and Administrator of Grace Lutheran Church and School in Malverne, NY with 49 staff members and a school with 301students, my preferred daily work style is management by objectives. I have learned to work in sync with Grace school leadership team and with the church Board of Trustee. The success of Grace Church/School is credited by making good quality decisions and critical thinking. We have incorporated evidence-based practices in our day-to-day operation.
As Pastor Administrator, one of many lessons I have learned is that communications are paramount and essential if we want to be successful. In the real-estate market, there is a slogan that says, “it’s about location, location. In the church and school community we say, it’s all about communication, communication. Some of the ways we communicate with our parishioners, parents and friends is via Constant Contact, Phone Call Mall, Web Page and Facebook for ongoing congregational and school events. The aforementioned has helped us in our congregational growth by continuously informing our congregants and friends of upcoming events.
Some of the lessons I have acquired in the past years as Pastor Administrator have been, coping with complexities and chaos within the life of the church. Planning, budgeting and communications are essential for success. Creating networks of people and relationships that can accomplish our ministry agenda. Finally, as Pastor Administrator it is imperative that I monitor outcomes of our proposed missional plans.
A common theme in all the roles referenced in the previous section is the idea of bringing all congregations and conferences together. As Bishop, how will you use your time and staff to help congregations and conferences who may feel disconnected from the synodical offices and life of our synod?
Communications: There are several factors that I believe have precipitated a disparity between our congregations, conference and our synodical office. This may transpire from various variables. The scarce use of modern means of communication between our synod’s vast geographical territory and the Bishop and synod staff may be one of primary causes of this disconnection. If I am “Called” to serve as Bishop of our synod, the following are some tools to help us bind with this detachment. One of many resources that can merge this gap is online conferencing. As Bishop, I would use a tool such as ZOOM conferencing as a medium to host occasional meetings with congregations and conferences has proven to be very effective. The synod might also consider using You-Tube as a tool to connect with our congregants for monthly synodal updates i.e. Bishop’s reflections, synod matters and social issues affecting our society. We can also use automated calling “Robocalling” to reach our entire membership.
Connections: The Bishop and synod staff should be deployed every other week for a day or two to provide a ministerial presence throughout our four quadrants. The Bishop is a Pastor to all rostered leaders and Synodical Deacons; therefore, it is vital that the Bishop dedicate weekly check-ins with all synod leaders via the phone or internet conferencing or in person. One of my observations has been that only few rostered leaders in the past were able to contact the Bishop directly. If I am “Called to serve” as your Bishop, innovative means of communication will be open to all. Rostered leaders and Synod Deacons will have asses to their Bishop via online conferencing, Face Time, Google Duo or over the phone. Equally important, the Bishop and synod staff should devote some time to visit Conference Ministerium’s and congregations during the week and Sunday Worship; both small and large congregations.
Caring: Another reason why many rostered leaders feel disconnected from the Synod office and the Bishop is that many leaders feel uncared and unappreciated. If I am “Called” to serve as Bishop, caring for our rostered leaders will be a priority. On top of this many Rostered Leaders are going to get wounded or get themselves into some type of trouble. Likewise, some of our congregations have been also wounded by clergyperson or two, will also need spiritual healing. The outcomes of congregations which have been abused by clergypersons has caused mistrust of pastors. The Bishop needs to be present in a loving and caring spirit to both Rostered Leaders and congregations and bring a word of healing.
Community: One of the needs that I know of in our synod is our disconnection from each other. We do not know each other; we are a disjointed harmony. I propose we plan and schedule a “Community Building Retreat.” The purpose of this retreat is to spend time together getting to know each other, share our stories, and challenges as rostered leaders coupled with, God’s dream for our lives. God has called us to live in community as well as, that we need each other as companions in the journey. God has created us at times to be independent but more so, to be interdependent, we each other.
Congregational vitality and mergers are a primary area of focus. As congregations face a loss of members, youth, and income, what role do you see the Bishop having regarding issues of congregational vitality, mergers, strategic planning, and congregational renewal? Give any examples in which you ministered to people in a congregation in transition.
The following are Highlights on some of my ideas to the aforementioned questions: One of the primary roles the Bishop has is to serve as the Synod’s Chief Missionary. In this role, the Bishop inspires and motivates congregations in embracing change, from a “Missionary Model” instead of our present “Maintenance Model.” In the “Missionary model”, there is an understanding as to why we exist as Church, “The church as the body of Christ which has a mission to the world to baptize and make disciples of those who follow Jesus….Worship is the key for mission formation ” (Eric Gritsch). Using this model, the Bishop and Synod staff members guide and help congregations which are in decline to embrace Congregational Renewal: naming their current reality, reclaiming their missional heart, letting go of the past and moving forward, God’s purpose and dream for the congregation, choosing a new path and, equipping the congregation to live out their baptismal vocations. Moreover, within the “Maintenance Model”, the youth is viewed as the church of tomorrow. Contrary to the “Missionary Model” in which the youth is seen as the church of today. 2. I believe that a majority of Pastors in our synod are aware of membership decline in the ELCA and in our synod, which paralleled declines in other mainline denominations over the past three decades. It is imperative that the new Bishop strongly consider to convene a convocation of the synod to have “heart to heart” conversations with our entire leadership and discuss both current and potential problems, opportunities, God’s mission and dreams for our synod. This gathering will afford the Bishop an opportunity to “Establish a Sense of Urgency” in becoming a Missional Driven Synod. 3. For congregations experiencing growth in worship attendance and financial giving, we can enlist their aid in offering evangelism consultations and workshops for other congregation in decline in our synod. Conjointly we can use the method of “triage ministry,” by choosing few congregations that are in dwindling and connect them with a “Synod Missional Triage Team,” to help restore these ministries. 4. The Bishop needs be the leading missional voice in our synod when it comes to congregational vitality. This vitality can emerge in our churches when all of our congregants are trained in asset mapping, missional planning, discipleship, evangelism, anti-racism, diversity and, inclusion. 5. It is essential that the Bishop assign mentoring pastors for newly ordained clergy with skills in congregational renewal and transformation. 6. Finally, the Bishop needs to align synod staff member based on the synodical needs not just following the traditional organizational synodical staffing structure. This can help us in our congregational renewal and vitality (I am aware that the synod has several positions that are vital in our judicatory such as candidacy and congregational vacancy). From my point view, the restructuring of synod staff and the addition of Coordinators for Congregational Renewal and Vitality, Congregational Stewardship, Congregational Social Media, and Intergenerational Ministries is essential. Equally important I will seek to align our Deans closer to the synod office and help us in our congregational renewal. I also will support the idea that our Synod Deans should receive a monthly stipend to help offset expenses.
Faith formation is a vital part of congregational and synodical life. Children, youth, young adults, adults, and diaconal formation are especially important. As Bishop, how would you encourage and strengthen faith formation? Provide examples of faith-formation efforts you have led.
Faith formation begins at the crib and is a life long journey until we are called to enter the “Church Triumphant”. As a Parish Pastor I have always taught my congregations in the past and present by the means of my sermons and Bible studies that we practice our faith, not because God requires that of us, but in response to the unconditional love we receive from God. If we are to have congregational vitality, then we have to have worshippers who are strongly committed to growing in faith, love, along with obedience to God’s will. It has been said thanks to several factors, including social media, many people feel alone, isolated, ignored. They want to feel like they belong to something tangible where they feel respected, loved and included in a community. A gift of our Lutheran faith is the Sacrament of Baptism. This sacrament affirms for us that we are a child of God that is called to live our faith in daily life. One of the phrases said by the Pastor to those being baptized as they receive a baptismal candle is; “Let your light so shine before others that they can see your good works and glorify your father in heaven.” As believers, we are to live our lives so that others experience us as having the light of Christ within us.
Each day we remember our baptism, and we reflect on the promises we made as we were baptized; 1. To live among God’s faithful people; 2. To hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s Supper; 3. To proclaim the Good News of God in Christ through Word and Deed; 4. To serve all people following the example of Jesus and 5. To strive for justice and peace in all the earth. Living out these promises deepens our faith, but also challenges us to be a reflection of the love of Christ in the world. The way that we continue to foster growth in faith is through strategic faith formation ministries. Below is an outline of some of my ideas on how the Bishop can encourage and strengthen faith formation in our synod: Form a faith formation team in the synod that shares/generates creative,
intergenerational, generational “out of the box” resources on the synod website. For Lent and Advent offer a synod-wide emphasis on faith formation. For example, during Lent, encourage all congregations in our synod to “take on” a “spiritual practice” instead of or in addition to giving up something. The Bishop could spend a year preaching on faith formation in the synod via “YouTube” or other social media platforms. We can have a web suggestion box where congregants can place ideas for ways; they would like to see our churches grow in faith. Conference meetings where congregations can discuss strategies, they have used to enhance faith formation.
What is your understanding of our synod’s current strategic plan, and how would you advance that plan as Bishop?
Our synod’s strategic plan was formed to help and guide our congregations and leaders to focus on God’s mission and dream for our Synod. Moreover, the strategic plan directs and oversee the work and resources of our synod for the next four years. Equally as important, the strategic plan is lived out by various committees: Synod Council Executive Committee, Financial Management Committee, Claimed Strategy Committee, and Sent Strategy Committee.
As Bishop, I would seek various avenues to ensure that each Rostered Leader, Synod Deacon, Lay Leaders, and congregations be aware of our Synod’s Strategic Plan, by promoting with all of our churches via social media promoting our Strategic Plan. However, it is imperative that the Bishop schedules various meeting with all Strategic Plan committee members and Synod Deans to celebrate and evaluate the accomplishments of the MNYS Strategic Plans. This meeting is an opportunity for us to reflect on the process to set the stage for our next strategic plan in 2023.
Therefore, at this celebration, the committee members should evaluate both the planning process and the planning documents that have been developed. The committee might consider asking questions like what worked, did we met our objectives/goals, what did we learn from our congregations, what did we learn that can help improve our future endeavors, how do we measure success, metrics-how do we want vitality to be measured? For good measure, I would also put in place evaluations of our plans, develop an appropriate planning cycle to monitor and evaluate progress. Furthermore, as Bishop, I would advocate that benchmarks and assessments are gifts of God to the Church. Stewardship of the gifts that God has given us requires spiritual vigilance.
What do you see as the principal challenge of our synod in the next six years, and how will you approach and address it?
Our Synod is facing several challenges. One of them is that within the next six-years we will witness the slow decline of our membership in our congregations. In 1988, when our denomination was formed The Metropolitan New York Synod had 235 congregations today we have 190 congregations. Over and above that, 1/3 have no “Called Pastor and, 1/3 are not thriving. Many of our congregations in our synod are in a “Protective Maintenance,” stage. They are asking themselves: how do we recapture what we had, how do we maintain our numbers, how do we beef-up our programs, what happened to us, who’s responsible for our decline and can this be saved? The above leads to closure. If we want to address our reality it is paramount that we engage in respectful conversations of the heart. Business, as usual, is no longer working. If I am called to serve our synod as Bishop, I will encourage our membership to pray for renewal in our synod, churches and to be guided by the Holy Spirit during this process of transformation. I would also seek to encourage our synod to have a synod-wide convocation so, that we can engage in conversations on congregational vitality and transformation and to explore new missional ideas.
Another option to explore would be done in conjunction with the MNYS Center for Evangelical Mission and Synod Deans. I will recommend that we form a “Synod Missional Triage Team” to help restore 6 ministries per year who are in a severe decline and are willing to shift their old paradigms of ministry and engage in congregational redevelopment. My definition of congregational redevelopment is simple. “Redevelopment is the journey from a life-threatening disease to life-giving vitality,” (Sellion, Smith and Grossman). Church redevelopment is a resurrection journey like a heart transplant or a bone marrow transplant. In addition to train 10 to12 pastors, per year in congregational vitality will likewise effectively target our goals of helping congregations that need transformation.
Over time, our congregations in decline have learned what to expect from our synod. We can either build a sense of trust or suspicion. If their experiences lead to distrust, that distrust will build up like a bank to suspicion; the congregation will tend to pull back even further, defend its turf, and not be open to the Bishop, the synod’s leadership and resources and, eventually die. If I am elected Bishop, I will seek to bring healing and trust with congregations which are spiritually wounded. Along with the aforementioned, it is imperative for the Bishop to address the conditions of some our aging church building throughout our synod which in need or repair or reconstruction. Additionally, the Bishop will have a serious mandate to address the spiritual care of our aging membership and the decline of financial giving in our congregations along with how to become resourceful or creative with their church buildings.
As Bishop, what steps will you take for self-care? How can congregations be a support for the office of Bishop? How will you, as Bishop, also encourage self-care for pastors, deacons, and synod lay leaders?
Presently and if I am “Called to be Bishop, I will continue taking a Sabbath day once a week where I deliberately make time for mental, emotional, and physical health which is part of my self-care. Self-care is on-going in my life which refuels me rather than takes from me. In addition to this, I argue that self-care is a spiritual act because I am taking care of my body, mind, and spirit which belongs to God-stewardship of our lives.
In a few words, self-care is the key to living a balanced life. As Bishop I will promote self-care by communicating the following to our Rostered leaders, synod deacons and lay leaders via written communications and social media tools: Self-care needs to be something we actively plan, rather than something that happens out of thin air. I will promote nutritious, healthy diets. Along with get enough sleep 7-8 hours daily. Exercise a minimum of 3 times a week (light hand weights, Pilates, walking or jogging) and intentionally planning bi-monthly date nights with your spouse to continue kindling our relationships. Spend time with family and friends. Look for opportunities to laugh and to laugh at yourself.
Make time to visit museums, the cinema or dinner with friends.
My former mentor taught me the following expression “there will always be more ministry than we can fit into a workweek, so why even try? Maybe clergy depression or burnout is directly connected to the lack of self-care. Equally, important self-care takes courage; it is admitting that we are not super-human and that we need time off, rest and the care of our souls. In essence, self-care is a sign of humility.
Congregations can be supportive to the Bishop and staff by praying for the Bishop and staff during their Sunday worship service, by sending thank you notes in conjunction with by calling the synod office and conveying messages of thanksgiving, and you are in our thoughts.