The Rev. Perucy Nyanjula Butiku

The comments of pre-identified pastors represent their opinions only. —Synod Council Executive Committee.

The Rev. Perucy Nyanjula Butiku

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:
In my previous calls as a pastor, I preached, visited the sick, comforted the grieving, and buried the dead. I led Bible studies and shared the word of God with members of the congregation. I organized retreats for the male members where we spent two days, reading the Bible, Praying, listening to testimonies and talking about plans for our congregation.
I also organized female members for retreat where we did the same.  We always came back rejuvenated. This strengthened our faith together and helped us to bond as a family of God.
It is in this type of events that I realized who needed encouraging to take a lay-position in the church and more. We had assigned times for prayers, everyone liked that. Prayers was our central theme. We continued with Bible studies every Wednesday and this was a teaching moment.

I organized for the kindergarten kids to have Chapel and if there was no pastoral presence a lay leader did it.
I trained lay leaders to lead. As of now New Hope Lutheran Church in Valley Stream has no pastor but the lay leaders are keeping it together. I thank God for this.
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: 
 In the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit+

The First time our former Bishop was elected as a bishop of this synod, he had decided not to have on his staff a person of color not one. At the first Synod Assembly after his election people of color wanted everybody to know that was racism and bishop was a racist. It was a hard time and the synod was divided. 
I was then appointed by the Bishop to join the synod staff part time while I had a full time call with a congregation. This was difficult to me, I prayed a lot and asked God to guide me. I was brought in as a bridge builder and I gave it my all. Our synod needed healing. Our synod needed repentance, our synod needed understanding more of why Jesus said, “It is Finished” to all. Racism is sin and I had to say it every time I had an opportunity.

I intentionally met with members of different ethnic groups of our synod to discuss what was before us and how to find solutions. All ethnic groups helped suggest to me what they thought needed to be done. I together with the bishop visited different ethnic groups and listened to what they had to say and bishop understood why people felt that way. 

Many people looked at the leader of the Synod as racist. As for me as I was working hard to build bridges, I buried myself in prayer and in the Word of God. The following are some of the scriptures that helped me:
Isaiah 33:2, James 2:1, 1 Peter 2;24, John 14: 27, Phil. 1 :27 and Mathew 28: 19 to name a few. I sometimes shared these Scriptures with all synod staff during chapel. I served then as I am serving now, rooted in the word of God, with commitment and love of Christ to everyone together with a lot of humility.

I am a liaison for the synod’s Multicultural Mission committee, this committee represents what our synod looks like, there are people from all ethnic groups, from different social status. We work together as a team and through this committee we have built a network to advance unity and the love of God together.
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 the name of the Father, and the Son and The Holy Spirit+

I have served as a leader in the two congregations. I knew very early that I must be a servant leader, rooted in the Word of God and having an intimate relationship with God.
I knew as a leader I model values, attitudes and behaviors to the people I lead. It was important for me to show that I am not doing this alone, but, that I am following the Lord’s lead.
As a leader I cared for everybody, showed love to all, brought harmony where there was a tense situation and encourage everybody to trust God in all we did. My life is modelled in Prayer and I have prayed with the people I lead, individually or in groups.

A leader must be present and a pastor must be present to the people in congregations. My experience has been positive when I have communicated with people well in everything I did including plans for the future, ( vision), resources and activities for the ministry. Ministry of presence is important. Leader’s presence means you care for the people you lead.

In our Lutheran heritage, our first privilege is to proclaim the grace of God as that faith-producing heritage gives highest place to the divine initiative to call all people into openness in the family of the baptized. While Christ’s body, the Church continue to welcome all people, as a leader I always led with compassion and faith. 

There is a Worship Community from East Africa in our Synod, I am their leader and pastor, we worship together in Kiswahili. I also attend to their spiritual and other needs like funerals, memorial services, weddings and baptismal.

I serve on the African Nationals Steering Committee of the ELCA. I help train African Lay leaders for their new worship communities as they come in the country. I am also there to help them understand some of the cultural issues going on in the country and in Church.
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: 
In the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit+

Administrative task is concerned with every aspect of the church life and seeking to coordinate every experience toward one unified purpose. Administration cannot be confined only to the organizational, programmatic, and promotional aspects of the church life. Worship, preaching, pastoral care, and every other experience within the church must be seen as interrelated parts on one whole. Each must be viewed in relation to its contribution toward the church’s mission.

As an administrator, I equipped the church to be the church and to do the work of the church in a coherent and comprehensive manner. At my guidance as a pastor, I provided guidance to lay leaders to lead the church using their talent and gifts on matters involving financial, resources, care of the physical building of the church all this done in order to fulfill the objective and purpose of God’s grace.
In church councils, we started always with a Bible study and these are some of the scripture we used;

1 Corinthians 10:31, Mathew 22:37-40 and Mathew 28:19-20

After Bible study we shared what was going on administratively, financially and spiritually. We discussed our Vision our shortcomings and where we needed more strength and help.

As a pastor I had an oversight of the Congregation’s leadership, its finances, personnel and legal issues.

Our congregation had a day-School and an after school with teachers for both sections. I with the help of the church council hired all of them and more other needed staff for the running of the church. It was my responsibility to see that the welfare of the personnel is taken care of with compassion.
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?
In the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit+

 Bishop is a servant not a prince/princess, humble, meek deeply rooted in the Word of God and a shepherd of all people in the Synod.  Shepherds know their people and know them well. The way the setting is now the bishop does not even know all the pastors of the synod well. A bishop must be trustworthy and pastoral with vision for the future of the synod. A bishop must be patient and full of humility and compassion.

 As bishop, I will avail myself to all corners of the synod by visiting pastors in their setting, spend time with them, hear their joys and struggles, pray with them and give them support and encouragement.

As bishop, I will organize ministerium in conferences for both pastors and lay leaders to listen to their concerns, views and needs. People will have opportunity to speak freely express themselves openly how they feel about their synod and what they want to see happening.

As a bishop, I will intentionally send out synod staff to visit and worship and speak about what is going on at the synod and listen to the congregations’ ideas and needs.  Synod staff will be able to answer questions. This will help give the synod transparency that is lacking now.

Another idea of bringing all congregations and conferences together is by treating all congregations and conferences equally. This must start by treating pastors of color fairly when it comes to call and placement in congregations. The call process for Rostered leaders, I mean clergy of color has always been unjust in this synod. As a bishop, I will make sure there is equality in the call and placement process. The issue of letting pastors of color stay without calls for a long time is wrong. Because of this, there is distrust to the synod in the communities of color. All people need to feel accepted because this is their synod too, but, the culture of division and discrimination has been encouraged in this synod for a long time. As a bishop, I will make sure this stops.

At the same token, congregations of color stay for a long time without pastors when their pastor dies, transfers or retires. The synod has not always seemed to be concerned about them in a serious manner. This is wrong. I will change it if I am called to be a bishop.

As bishop, I will treat all congregations even those that are struggling. Instead of closing congregations I will encourage evangelism that is now missing in our synod. Instead of counting numbers in pews and money, I will encourage spiritual growth in all congregation. I believe when people are spiritually strong they make way when there are no ways and keep their congregations going. We have put fear in people’s minds that when a staff member goes to worship in a congregation, people think they are there to check on them ready to close them. There is a need for building mutual relationships with people in congregations and to put emphasis on the Gospel.

As bishop I will work hard to remove division and disunity that this synod is famous for. 
(1 Corinthians 1:10)
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.
In the name of the father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit+
The answer to this is two pronged: the one part is the reality that we need to understand that all ministries exist contextually, that is as contexts change, in the most healthy of situations, congregations should be ready and able to adapt to changing contexts. The bishop and staff can be instrumental in using the Synods resources to help congregations to discern what is in their immediate neighborhood, what ’hole’ or deficits in care exist, and how each congregation can develop a niche for itself, creating new innovative way of being useful in the neighborhood, and subsequent discipleship, which is a key to reversing decline.

When there is no longer need for our witness in a context, we have to be willing to accept that perhaps ministry in one form should give way to other forms of ministry, sometimes in the same location, and sometimes in different locations. But whatever the location, context needs to be of utmost consideration if our mission as church will remain relevant. I ministered to people of Holy Trinity Hollis, to accept that ministry the way it was in that location had to give way to another ministry in another location in Valley Stream. Most members of Holy Trinity Lutheran church from Hollis, moved to New Hope Lutheran Church, Valley Stream and built strong healthy relationships with other members.

I did seek out and used the gifts of people of all ages. I managed disagreements in a healthy respectful manner. There were many occasions where members were encouraged to share their faith with others. I interacted with the local community, I lived my faith openly in my daily life and I encouraged congregational members to do the same. I built mutual relationship with people in the congregation’s neighborhood and the community.

The bishop should help congregations make decisions about new ways of being church, this can include mergers, reallocating of assets towards new form of ministry. Bishop, as the synod’s pastor, should also help facilitate the grieving process that stems naturally from ending of one iteration of ministry, while also spurring on the growth of new ministries.

The bishop can also be instrumental in helping struggling congregations use their own resources to establish entrepreneurial ministry that aligns with their respective plans, while also creating sustainability needed to attract the right pastoral staff with vision to help to build the congregation further. As of now, congregational vitality is nearly not possible in some congregations because they cannot afford to call a dynamic leader and this puts them in a hole of decline. The bishop and staff with empathy can create a scaffolding of support so that when a struggling congregation extends a call, the congregation is already on the rebound, and can support a full-time pastor who can help move the congregation forward nurturing them in faith and helping them to deepen their relationship with God.
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.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit+

I think faith formation would be easier if it were more accessible, and there were some way to get many congregations to participate in together. I am thinking, for instance of something like a Bishop’s confirmation camp, etc.

We also need to put our money where our mouth is. There is a need to have someone on the bishop’s staff dedicated to faith formation whose assignment will be faith formation in a large scale events say twice a year ( spring/fall), and then task them with small events across the synod’s quadrants once a month. As a bishop, I would support and strengthen campus ministries and the diaconal programs and give them well-deserved attention in synod forums.

As bishop, I will have a plan in action to partner with the local Lutheran camps and join together with our partners in communion to bring our youth together in various faith-based events/camps. These camp pipeline for youth can be very helpful in the cultivation and shaping of leaders and future pastors.

We, as a synod cannot afford to continue with the attitudes that ignores the current state of decline of youth in church because they are the future of the church. It is our responsibility to help them grow in their faith involving them in maintaining a sense of God’s active presence and mission as the focus of ministry. (1 Timothy 4: 12) 
What is your understanding of our synod’s current strategic plan, and how would you advance that plan as Bishop?
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit+

As bishop I would advance the strategic plan by putting emphasis on Evangelism, the Gospel and not closing congregations. I will also add the issue of Justice as part of the plan.

As assistant to the bishop, I am a liaison for the Anti-racism trainings and Multicultural events under the umbrella of “Sent” Committee of the strategic plan.

It has done well in many instances. It is because this plan that we started Anti-racism trainings for all people in the synod. We added to this trainings a bilingual training and internalized racism .  Racism has not been eradicated in our synod, but a seed has been planted to all who attended trainings.

As bishop I will continue with these trainings in different settings and I will explore to train our own trainers. 

As for multicultural events, I must say I have witnessed young people, and adults come together for the first time to participate in discussion of faith based issues and this has brought them closer as children of God.

I know some congregations have received grants and are happy with the plan, but this all came about because of the strategic plan. I would go back to the drawing board and see what need to be strengthen and what need to be changed according to the needs of people in congregations.
What do you see as the principal challenge of our synod in the next six years, and how will you approach and address it?
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit+

One thing that I keep hearing in general is that this new bishop may have a tough road ahead because they will have to make some really tough decisions. There are also misconceptions about the role of a bishop, if I become a bishop, my administration will not be a continuation of the past bishop’s administration, but I will hit a reset button.

This synod is perceived as discriminatory, harbors disunity, dysfunctional and not transparent.

There is a great need for bringing Gospel back and listen to what God is calling us as the synod to do in His glory. I will make it a friendly transparent synod guided by the love of Jesus Christ. 

The Long Island part of the synod and Staten Island feel disconnected. I would build strong, healthy relationships among pastors by visiting them and spend time with them in their own setting. Have one on one with them know their needs, listen to their joy and their struggle. Pray with them and encourage them. I will also plan to worship in different congregations in all geographical areas of the synod.

Along with physical distance, there is theological diversity across the synod, I will serve as a bridge to help have much needed conversation.

Bishop McCoid has occasionally mentioned that there is huge lack of transparency in the synod office, and while this is not often intentional, it breeds mistrust. There also needs to be healing from the last bishop’s administration. It is in the healing process that we will need to nurture each other’s faith while encouraging everyone to deepen their relationship with God. Synod staff will know that they are servants of the people and not some kind of lords with power and arrogance.

As bishop I will endeavor to continue bishop McCoid’s work of creating checks, balances, and accountability measures.

Mission support is becoming less and less every month, we need to look into the means by which to fund the synod, this is a challenge. There is a misconception about how funds from the sale of synod properties are spent. We have not been able to explain convincingly although grants are given. 

The issue of racism especially in a synod like ours cannot be ignored, because serving our God is not about what color one is, it is about loving God with all your heart and serving with commitment.

We are a Sanctuary synod, as bishop I will make sure that immigrants from all over the world who end up in New York are welcome.

I think there should also be a focus on ministries that are doing well in the synod, because there is something to learn from them. Maybe creating a partnership program between struggling congregations and those that are doing good work (not based on size) and congregations should be able to opt in.

Another challenge is about our youth (I have said more about this earlier on) bishop will have to be intentional about young people in our church.
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?
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit+

As for me my care starts with prayers, I am a member of a group of ten Christian women from different denominations, we meet once a week for prayers and listen to each other’s testimonies, we support and encourage each other in the faith we all believe in.

I like to take some walks in the evenings when the weather allows.

I go to concerts when I can.

I take day off every Friday.

As bishop, I will encourage pastors, deacon and synod lay leaders to make sure they take their days off, do some exercises, have fun and do what they can to help them to relax.

As bishop, I will ask congregations to pray for the office of the bishop always.