From a Lay Leader's Desk

A series of opinion articles from lay leaders in our synod.


Women's History Month 2024, Synod Deacon Tanya Lee Behnke

Mar 29, 2024
MNYS Celebrates Women's History Month

Women's History Month 2024, Anaih Nieto, MNYS Synod Council

Mar 23, 2024
MNYS Celebrates Women's History Month

A Message from our DEM/Advocacy Coordinator, Branden Dupree

Mar 20, 2024
"City of Faith" As we lean into our purpose to live like Christ in our communities, guided by the principle to ensure reparative justice, we can advocate for a more equitable, sustainable, and affordable #CityofFaith together.

Women's History Month 2024, Lily Sage Mathias, MNYS Synod Council

Mar 08, 2024
MNYS Celebrates Women's History Month

A Message from Henryk Behnke, Seafarers International House

Jan 21, 2024
Seafarers International House, the Lutheran response to the urgent needs of vulnerable seafarers and immigrants since 1873.

A Message from our DEM, Branden Dupree

Sep 14, 2023
MNYS remains committed to supporting and growing congregations — particularly in communities of color.

A Message from our DEM, Branden Dupree

Jun 16, 2023
MNYS remains committed to supporting and growing congregations — particularly in communities of color.

Un Mensaje De Branden Dupree Director Para La Misión sobre Inauguración Del Ministerio "Unidad Y Fe"

Sep 14, 2022
"Hoy, celebramos no solo la finalización de este hermoso y nuevo espacio, sino también el cumplimiento de una visión Luterana en Woodhaven que busca honrar un legado distinto y significativo, actualizándolo a través de un ministerio emocionante e innovador. Unidad y Fe es un bien cultural que comunica las esperanzas del pasado y conecta las posibilidades únicas para el futuro de nuestro Sínodo."

A Letter from DEM Branden Dupree on the Grand Opening of the Unidad Y Fe Ministry

Sep 14, 2022
"Today, we celebrate not only the completion of this beautiful, new space but the fulfillment of a Lutheran vision in Woodhaven, that seeks to honor both a distinct and significant legacy while actualizing it through exciting and innovative ministry. Unidad y Fe is a cultural asset that communicates the hopes of the past and connects the possibilities unique to the future of our Synod."

2022 Churchwide Assembly | Roberto Lara's Vice-President Nomination Speech

Aug 17, 2022
"As a queer Latino immigrant with an uncertain relationship to the Church; Lutheranism embraced me and taught me that I could have a healthy and loving relationship with God, but more importantly, God wanted to have a healthy and loving relationship with me." – Roberto Lara, MNYS Assistant to the Bishop for Communication and Development


Mar 18, 2021
I have been blessed to have had, and continue to have, strong, independent, grace-filled women as role models in my life; women in my family, church family, school, and work life, all of who have had an impact on me. Some leading out front, and others, less conspicuously, paving the way for my generation of women and beyond, to feel more natural stepping into leadership roles.


Feb 17, 2021


Feb 10, 2021


Jan 22, 2021


Jul 30, 2020
If we have learned something uplifting during this crisis, it is that Church is so much more than a building—Church transcends the brick and mortar sanctuaries we are so accustomed to worshiping in. Our buildings may have been closed, but Church remained open, and our churches have been diligently serving our communities.


Jul 30, 2020
If I take nothing else from my months of virtual worship, it will be this: Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. Wherever I go, there too can be church.


Jun 30, 2020
One issue that has arisen in educational audiology is the impact of facemasks on speech reception. The act of trying to pronounce every sound will automatically reduce the rate, while maintaining the rate necessary to allow for the continuity of the message without being distracting.


Jun 25, 2020
One of the many ways I see our parish communities and individuals engaging in this work is participating in recent protests around metro NY during this pandemic. The hope is that we can keep ourselves safe, keep our neighbors safe, keep our BIPOC siblings safe, our queer siblings safe, our immigrant siblings safe, our environment safe, and the most vulnerable among us safe as we answer the gospel’s call for justice.


Jun 10, 2020
Climate change is a moral issue and a responsibility for every person. We can choose to harm our planet and jeopardize future generations or we can take steps to head toward a cleaner healthier Earth.


May 07, 2020
Seafarers International House (SIH) is helping in the fight for people’s lives one bed at a time. More beds used by recovering COVID-19 patients at Seafarers International House today mean more beds available for desperately ill COVID-19 patents in NYC hospitals. Find devoted SIH staff members caring for their immediate needs in the ports and in Manhattan. And, the SIH guesthouse now provides beds to those community members recuperating from COVID-19.

Your Jesus Is Too Small

May 01, 2020
For me, this means that we as Lutherans not only respect persons of other faiths, or even of no faith, but also that we uphold them in their own efforts to grasp eternal truths—regardless of whether those efforts happen in a church, a temple, a synagogue, a mosque, or elsewhere. When we can safely get back out there, let’s celebrate by loving like we’ve never loved before. All God’s creatures, of every ilk.

Earth Day

Apr 21, 2020
St. Paul wrote to the Philippians: “Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me.” (Philippians 3:13.) We will reach the end of this pandemic. Why not use Earth Day to consider what we want to take from these terrible times into a better future?

A Message from Branden Dupree, MNYS Director for Evangelical Mission/Assistant to the Bishop

Apr 14, 2020
Generosity is our best investment. Know that people will be standing on the shoulders of how we respond generously today. We are church together.

It’s Okay to Be Sad

Apr 06, 2020
This year, there will be no church-hopping, no meeting Lutherans from the Hudson conference, no Easter vigil to keep watch with my fellow faithful. In the midst of this terrible coronavirus, Bishop Eaton and Bishop Egensteiner have told us to shelter in place and practice physical distancing. For the safety us all, we have to heed their advice, even during the time when we most want to be together.

Earth Day Plus 50: The Fierce Urgency of Now!

Mar 30, 2020
The synod environmental stewardship committee is on the lookout for inspiring Earth Sunday ideas to be shared in these days of individual isolation. One great idea comes from Christ Lutheran in East Northport which has distributed a “Personal Covenant With God’s Creation” The covenant covers many areas of our everyday life that we sometimes overlook as stewards. The church is asking as many congregants as possible to sign onto the covenant before Earth Day.

Retrofitting your Church with LED Lights will save about 50% annual Electric Energy costs

Mar 05, 2020
PSEG has an Energy Efficiency Program which rebates up to 70% of the cost of buying the LED Lights. St. John’s Church, Pastor Perry Kirschbaum, Merrick, NY, has recently completed such a change from conventional lighting to LED Bulbs, with a 50 % estimated savings on our annual Electric Bill on going.

Seafarers International House: A Sanctuary Organization

Feb 06, 2020
SIH joins the church in its commitment “to work toward just and humane policies affecting migrants in and outside the U.S.” This “new” dimension of SIH’s mission has already become as much of a blessing to SIH staff and supporters as for those they serve.

Christmas & Evangelism: Best Practices to Welcome New People

Nov 12, 2019
While we read and honor the ancient scriptures, the way we consume information is changing in our modern times. Even if these new targeted guests don’t show up at a service or Christmas event, offering someone an invitation at the most opportune time of year can leave a positive and lasting impression for whenever they change their minds. They’ll remember your warm and welcoming invitation when the timing is right, and that after all, is the reason for the season.

Evangelism in the Modern World

Nov 12, 2019
With advocacy being a huge part of our calling, we have implemented PR and cross-channel strategies, and a plethora of advocacy programs to let the world know about our radically welcoming mission, and in this way, reach out to potential new members for ALL our congregations, a.k.a. EVANGELISM.

Is God pleased with our level of acknowledgement?

Nov 01, 2019
Acknowledgments are important, ------ and that got me to wondering whether God is pleased with our level of acknowledgment, in responding to him with our gratitude and thanks, and our recognition of what he's done for us, for what he's given to us. And if we say, "Yes, I do respond sincerely, and regularly," that implies we are backing up that response in lives of service. It's one thing to say "Thank you;" it's another to "do" thank you. And thank you to all of you who are already "doing."

Overcoming the "Poor Me" Problem with Gratitude

Oct 23, 2019
Do you have a “poor me” problem, too? It’s nothing to be ashamed of. That’s human nature. We see the world through our own eyes, experiencing our own emotions, and chasing our own aspirations. Maybe you say, Poor me. The furnace broke, so we won’t have money for a vacation this winter. Or, Poor me. I live so far from my children that I hardly see my grandkids. For any person, the first step in overcoming “poor me” can be gratitude.

An Immigrant – My Story

Jul 08, 2019
I emigrated from former Yugoslavia, today Croatia, when I was 21 years old. I took a train to Trieste, a port city on the Italian border. The refugee camp was in the nearby town of Padriciano. Finally, at 5 p.m., it was getting dark outside, and I realized that I had no place to sleep, and that I have to make a faithful decision. I approached a young policeman, and I told him that I am seeking political asylum.

Claimed: Motherhood and the Privilege of Heteronormative Life

Jul 08, 2019
As anyone in New York was aware in June 2019, this was the fiftieth anniversary of Pride also known as the Stonewall Uprising. So, on the day of the actual Pride Parade, I was searching myself for some representation of who I am, a Christian – and that’s when I decided to make a sign, “Get Your Mom Hug!” I’d seen the founder of the movement on RuPaul’s talk show, and I thought, “Yes, this is how I am, now. I’m a mom.”

A New Church

Jun 26, 2019
Our synod is not going to disappear. It is true that there is a sunrise and a sunset for many congregations. But it is equally true that our synod, and the ELCA, are part of the one holy church universal and triumphant. And that means that we cannot fail. By definition, we will remain. If every Lutheran in New York walks out the doors and no one comes back in, if we lose every resource, if we are reduced to ashes, we will rise again. We are a church of resurrection.

MNYS Is About to Change

Jun 17, 2019
Our synod is not going to disappear. It is true that there is a sunrise and a sunset for many congregations. But it is equally true that our synod, and the ELCA, are part of the one holy church universal and triumphant. And that means that we cannot fail. By definition, we will remain. If every Lutheran in New York walks out the doors and no one comes back in, if we lose every resource, if we are reduced to ashes, we will rise again. We are a church of resurrection.

More Plastic than Fish

May 01, 2019
I read a statistic the other day that, in this age of alarming statistics, stood out as really alarming to me: some have estimated that by 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans (by weight). Let that sink in for a minute.

The Job Interview I Failed

Apr 30, 2019
As we approach this year’s assembly, I encourage lay members throughout our synod to consider whether the Holy Spirit may be calling them to greater service, and what skills they may have acquired to prepare for such roles, even without realizing it was happening. There is a path for each of us. The Holy Spirit will reveal it in time, and maybe that time is now.

Love Thy Neighbor

Apr 09, 2019
If Christians refuse to learn about other faiths because they are worried that those traditions will rub off on them, or dilute their Christianity—shouldn’t they be just as optimistic that their Christianity will inspire those they engage?

When Jesus Says He Doesn't Know Us

Apr 04, 2019
The sins of the prodigal son were too numerous and too terrible to mention beyond the phrase “dissolute living,” and if they made a movie about him you’d have to be 17 to see it without an adult. Yet when he came back to his father – a rhetorical stand-in for God or Jesus – he was welcomed with joy, celebration, and forgiveness.

On Hope(lessness)

Feb 20, 2019
The one holy catholic and apostolic church is founded in resurrection. Even we agree on little else, we must agree on that. So it follows: If tomorrow all our rostered members walked out the doors and our buildings fell to dust, we would not disappear. No, we would not. The remnant would get to work on a resurrection, and we would rise again.

The Tenth Amendment

Jan 09, 2019
The 188 congregations within our Synod have their own personalities, too. Like any communities, they are living, breathing, changing. I view our Synod like a federated system: MNYS binds together many unique parts in the recognition that we are stronger together than apart.

Climate Artists: Disruptors of the Peace

Jan 09, 2019
Climate artists have emerged as a new category of citizen activists who do not just question the status quo, as established by these elites, but work to disrupt it. These artists are disrupters of a fraudulent peace created from consumerism and materialism, which has attempted to diminish humanity and has succeeded in poisoning and despoiling our earth.

What is that?

Nov 06, 2018