Bishop's Page

Documents for Spring Conference Lunches with the Bishop

Agenda for the Day/Future Dates (document updated 3-14-18):

Statements and Letters from and about United Lutheran Seminary

 From Bishop Claire Burkat of Southastern Pennsylvania Synod:

burkat bishop (Southeastern PA) Letter burkat bishop (Southeastern PA) Letter (48 KB)

From Bishop James Dunlop of Lower Susquehanna Synod:

Dunlop Bishop (Lower Susquehanna) Letter Dunlop Bishop (Lower Susquehanna) Letter (36 KB)

From Bishop Kusserow to our ministerium:

kusserow word to ministerium about ULS kusserow word to ministerium about ULS (169 KB)

Links to articles in Post-Gazette by Peter Smith.  Please click on title to be linked to the article:
"Lutheran Seminary Faces Leadership Crisis over President's Past LGBTQ Beliefs," 
and  "Lutheran Seminary Board Chairperson Resigns."

Link to President Latini's personal story:

Link to United Lutheran Seminary website's Board of Trustees statements:

Luther Hymn Fest Flyer (Sunday, April 29):

Luther Hymn Fest Flyer Luther Hymn Fest Flyer (891 KB)

Link to ELCA Conference of Bishops "Statement of Support" for the March for Our Lives on March 24:

(You may also subscribe to receive ELCA News Releases by email at this link)

A "thank you" from Bishop Felipe Lozada:

Lozada thank you and Statement to C.O.B. Lozada thank you and Statement to C.O.B. (95 KB)

Visit from Bishop Munib Younan to Thiel College, April 12, 2018.

Bishop Younan's visit to Thiel College April 12, 2018

Former Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land, and former President of the Lutheran World Federation, Bishop Munib Younan will be arriving at Thiel on in the afternoon of April 11 and will participate in a full day of events on April 12. Rev. Mark Wilhelm, Executive Director of Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities, will be joining us, too.

Here is the tentative schedule:

• Bishop Younan will visit classes in the morning.
• 12:00 Noon: special Chapel service on Thursday, April 12.
• 1:00 p.m.: Lunch (with chapel staff and religion students.)
• Dinner at Pres. Traverso's home (by invitation only).
• 7:00 p.m.: Bishop Younan's presentation in the LHR, open to the public.


Link to draft "Declaration on Our Inter-Religious Commitment":

Information about, a form of electronic giving: Press Release:

Tithely Press Release Tithely Press Release (30 KB)

Links to more information about "":  (Learn more about

 2018 Synod Assembly Information:

Link to the 2018 Synod Assembly webpage:    
(I realize the link shows "2016" in the name; however, the link does take you to the 2018 Assembly information page):

Flyer for "Abraham Jam":

"Abraham Jam" Flyer "Abraham Jam" Flyer (25791 KB)

"Heading Into Uncharted Territory (without Google Maps)"

Saturday, April 14, 2018; 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.;
Berkeley Hills Lutheran Church;
517 Sangree Road; Pittsburgh, PA 15237
Registration $20

Our communities are changing around us. Some congregations feel helpless, if not completely immobilized. Others shout, “We’re ready! Help us lead into this new frontier well!” Maybe you and your congregation fall somewhere in between. The ultimate goal of our time together is to leave the event with a specific action plan for your congregation!

Join SWPA Synod congregation leaders and rostered ministers on Saturday, April 14 from 9am-3pm as Rev. Dave Daubert of Day 8 Strategies guides us in new ways of navigating change in our communities.
Your $20 registration includes lunch and a copy of Rev. Daubert's new book: The Invitational Christian.

For more information, and a flyer, please click below:

Heading into Uncharted Territory Flyer Heading into Uncharted Territory Flyer (229 KB)

April, 2018 Reflections from the Bishop

The Resurrection According to St. Mark

We’re in the year of Mark. Our three-year lectionary gives us one year of Gospel readings primarily from Matthew, the second year from Mark, and the third year from Luke. Then we start all over again. Because Mark is so short, we also get a healthy dose of John this year.

Mark’s Gospel does not include any account of the birth of Christ. And its earliest versions come to an end at 16:8*, before the resurrected Christ appears to the disciples. Can you have a Gospel without these things? Is Mark somehow deficient?

Biblical scholar N. Clayton Croy, in his book, The Mutilation of Mark’s Gospel, theorizes that the book did at one time have both an account of Christ’s birth and a more complete account of his resurrection, but that the covers of the book, including its first and last pages, got lost. His argument rests heavily on two sentences and the curious habit of the Early Church to use books rather than scrolls.

The first sentence, “... as it is written in the prophet Isaiah,” (Mark 1:2) seems to pick up a thought somewhat after it had been first introduced. (Compare, for example Luke 3:4) And the last sentence, “and they said nothing to nobody because they were afraid of ...” (16:8) drops off in a really awkward way, especially in the Greek.

When scrolls are damaged, they tend to lose text at the top and bottom edges where they are most likely to crumble and suffer wear. But a book made of flat leaves folded over in half and sewn together loses pages from the front and the back before anything else. You may even have an old book at home that has lost its cover and some of the first and last pages along with it as evidence of this very thing.

It’s a theory, of course, and not the only theory used to explain Mark’s odd ending at 16:8. But the question, regardless of theory, remains a valid one: can a Gospel that ends before the resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples sufficiently proclaim the saving faith of the Church?

Some say No. In fact, the various endings that have been attached to the end of Mark over the years provide ancient examples of this argument. “You can’t have a Gospel that ends before the disciples see the risen Christ,” they must have reasoned. “That leaves the most important part of the story off!” And so, by various editors over the years, the “deficient” Gospel of Mark was “fixed.”

But I wonder. I have not seen the risen Christ. All I have to go on is the witness of those who have seen him, and who were able to attest that the tomb is empty because Christ has been raised and is no longer there. My experience is not unusual. In fact, nearly every Christian for over 2,000 years has believed the event of the resurrection because of the witness of someone else who saw it.

The Gospel of Mark, even the shorter version that ends at 16:8, preserves this very witness. In 16:5-6, we read that as the women entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side. He said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.”

This first-hand witness remains intact very near the end of the Gospel of St. Mark. The last page may have been lost, but this critical detail was not. The reader is told that the women who went to the tomb met someone who had seen the resurrection, and they heard the proclamation that has become the Church’s chief article of faith: “He has been raised; he is not here.”

When I think of the imperfection of my own witness to Christ, I am comforted by this. And I hope that you will be, too.

We have heard the story of Christ from people who have suffered damage, in communities of faith that are in some ways a little odd, within a tattered Church whose ongoing proclamation of Christ has certainly lost some things in translation over the many years of its labors. And yet, the story of Christ remains complete enough to generate saving faith within us.

Thanks be to God for those who saw the risen Christ and who stood inside the empty tomb he left behind. Thanks be to God for the Gospels which have kept for us the central witness of the Church. And thanks be to God for every person, imperfect though they may be, who has given voice to the account of the eye-witnesses in their own day: “He has been raised!”

With you in Christ,

+Kurt F. Kusserow, Bishop

Footnote:  * Look to see if your Bible has a footnote here, saying something like this: “Some of the most ancient authorities bring the book to a close at the end of verse 8.”

A Pastoral Word (from Bishop Kusserow) following Las Vegas

Below is a letter, dated October 4, 2017, regarding the natural and man-made disasters that have happened recently.

A Pastoral Word following Las Vegas A Pastoral Word following Las Vegas (168 KB)

A Pastoral Letter from the Conference of Bishops after Las Vegas

Below is a "Pastoral Letter on Violence" adopted by the Conference of Bishops in 2013. Bishop Kusserow has asked me to share this letter with the synod. He will address the subject personally when he returns from Chicago later this week.

Pastoral Letter on Violence Pastoral Letter on Violence (24 KB)

A Pastoral Word to the Synod After Charlottesville.

Bishop Kusserow's pastoral letter is available for download, below:

Pastoral Word to the Synod after Charlottesville Pastoral Word to the Synod after Charlottesville (163 KB)

BELOW is the Statement on Immigration from the ELCA Conference of Bishops

Immigration Statement from Conference of Bishops Immigration Statement from Conference of Bishops (40 KB)