Bishop's Page

Message from Bishop Kusserow in response to tragic synagogue shooting

Dear Pastors and Deacons,

As we learn of the violent crime at Tree of Life Synagogue today, please keep the congregation and their rabbi, Jeffrey Myers, in your prayers this evening and tomorrow. We pray for the peace of the whole world every week; this week our prayer is especially for that part of the world we share with our closest neighbors.

Along with prayer, our Baptismal vocation calls us to strive for justice and peace. We do this by caring for our neighbors, and by working together for public respect and safety to replace hate and fear.

Together with all God's people, we strive to live by the law of love, which God has promised to write on our hearts.

With you in Christ,

"Sackcloth and Ashes" - A Response to the Grand Jury Report

For Bishop Kusserow's response to the Grand Jury Report of clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, download the document below:

September, 2018 Reflections from the Bishop

This May Be Your Last Echo

The collection of loose leaf pages in a large envelope that is our monthly newsletter has been an institution in our synod for decades. The idea was brilliant: that when the packet of pages from the synod arrived in the mail, it could be opened and distributed widely, regardless of the organizational structure of any particular ministry site. Loose leaf pages could be posted on the bulletin board, or copied and placed in congregation members’ pigeon holes, or handed out at council meetings to the committee chairs most interested in this or that piece of information. It was the paper version of going viral!

But all things institutional, “like earth’s proud empires, pass away,” as the familiar hymn teaches us. (The Day You Gave Us, Lord, Has Ended, v. 5) And this may be your last Echo.

Gloria has overseen the work of compiling, publishing and mailing the Echo for years, but she is retiring, and we do not plan to fill her position. Although we are in the process of identifying a Synod Communicator to join our synod staff, we intend to live with a kind of vacancy for a while, rather than scramble to continue everything that is currently in place. The shape of our synod staff is changing. The shape of our synod communication is changing. And as we head into a vacancy, this will likely be your last Echo, at least for a while.

Now you may be expecting me to say that all future editions of our synod newsletter will be in a digital format on our synod website, (which, by the way, is Or that we will rely on social media to distribute synod information. (Did you know we have a Facebook page?) Or that when it comes to the future of the Echo, “we have an app for that.” (We don’t, yet!)

But I would rather use the words of our Synod Council initiative to describe our path forward: we will invest in improved communication throughout our synod. It’s not just the medium, but the message itself that we want to address in this moment of change. Our primary question is not “paper or paperless,” but Luther’s own approach to Scripture, “what is it that bears Christ?” That is, how best can our whole approach to synod communication further our witness to Christ, our desire for healthy community, and our message of hope for the world?

Have you ever heard the claim, “The medium is the message?” I understand that to mean, “The way you communicate ends up being what you communicate.”

What is it that we most want to communicate? Here are at least a few things that rise to the top of my list:
• That God loves you.
• That there is hope for the future.
• That you can trust these things because Jesus lives that message in his life, death and resurrection.
• That the church’s primary goal is to bear witness to Christ.
• That we bear witness to Christ most clearly in sacramental worship and care for the neighbor.
• We do this better together than apart.
• You are an important part of our life and ministry.
• Our variety and differences do not weaken us but are a strength.
• You may ask questions without being afraid.

For thousands of years, the Church has communicated primary messages like these by speaking in person, by writing letters, through songs, and in the steady work of institutions of learning and social care. More recently, the printed word, audio recordings, and broadcast media greatly extended the reach of media to communicate the message. In July, as part of our newly-elected bishops’ orientation, we learned that our churchwide office has 32 different channels of communication!

As the synod office puts into practice the Synod Council initiative to invest in improved communication throughout our synod, I cannot promise that we will have 32 channels of communication by next month, but I can say that we have embraced the need for change, so that the message we want to communicate may be carried by the best media we can attain these days.

Naturally, we’ll keep you informed as we make progress toward that goal!

With you in Christ,

+Kurt F. Kusserow, Bishop

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)