ELCA Presiding Bishop Responds to Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I write to you with a broken heart – for the lives lost, wounded, and shattered by horrific hatred and violence at Tree of Life Congregation this morning. We join our Jewish neighbors and enter into mourning for all that has been lost. In our grief, God is our comfort. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

From Pittsburgh to Portland, and around the world, Jews are living in fear. Anti-Semitism is on the rise. Public acts of hatred and bigotry against Jews are commonplace. As Christians, and particularly as Lutherans, we deplore and reject this bigotry. “We recognize in anti-Semitism a contradiction and affront to the Gospel, a violation of our hope and calling, and we pledge this church to oppose the deadly working of such bigotry, both within our own circles and in the society around us” (1994 Declaration of the ELCA to the Jewish Community).

We are reminded that hate-filled violence knows no bounds – whether a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, a Christian church in Charleston, or a Jewish synagogue In Pittsburgh. As people of faith, we are bound together not only in our mourning, but also in our response.

Therefore, in this tender moment of grief, let us reach out to those whose hearts are most broken – our Jewish neighbors. I encourage you to contact your local synagogue, or your Jewish colleagues, friends, and family members, to share your words of care, support, love, and protection. There may be specific acts you might offer to demonstrate your care, such as when the members of Faith Lutheran Church surrounded Congregation Beth Israel of Chico, California, serving as Shomrim, or guardians, as they observed Yom Kippur following a hate crime in 2009.

Such simple acts can go a long way to demonstrate our love, as an extension of God’s love. As we seek to heal the brokenhearted, we are assured that God is near. There is no greater promise in the face of grief.

In peace,

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop, ELCA


Pastor’s Page

Grateful to a Most Generous God

On Thanksgiving Day, we ask the guests seated around our dinner table to share something for which they are thankful.  The responses are interesting, inspiring, heartfelt and funny.  Despite “Black Friday” looming large, the responses invariably come from deep wells of gratitude for who we are, not so much for what we have.

In her stewardship talk a couple of weeks ago, Sallie Shippen knocked it out of the ball park when she observed that our giving isn’t so much about our generosity. It’s about God’s generosity.

In one of our well-known prayers we say we offer our gifts with joy and thanksgiving for what God has given us – ourselves, our time, and our possessions.  These are signs of God’s gracious love.  Gratitude is a response to God and God’s overflowing generosity of healing love and forgiveness.

Like our emphasis in 2015, this year’s Stewardship emphasis on November 18th is Consecration Sunday.  I very much like this approach, as it stresses the need of the giver to give.  There is no talk of budgets, only the joy and power of keeping and growing a spiritual discipline of gratitude in response to God’s generous goodness.

I’m looking forward to what our guests will share at our home on Thanksgiving Day this month, though we need not contain our gratitude until then.  Every Sunday we gather in gratitude.  Every week a table is set with gifts of bread and wine.  Praying over these gifts we give thanks to God for the gift of creation, God’s many loving deeds, and most especially Jesus Christ who stretched out his hands in suffering to free all the world.

Join me in continuing to lift our hearts in gratitude and praise.

Pastor Hansen


Rediscovering Family: Understanding and Celebrating LBGTQI+ Perspectives

A 6-hour forum featuring
Amber Cantorna and Dr. Stephen Marshall-Ward

Coming out is something to be celebrated, but many LGBTQI+ people still suffer from the pressures of living within a conservative environment, and many are in unsafe living situations. This event is designed to bring people together, encourage discussion, create safe space for continued conversation around LGBTQI+ persons and their families, and to provide resources useful to the LGBTQI+ community and the people who love them.

During the event you will have the opportunity in discussion groups to interact with other LGBTQI+ people and their allies navigating different stages of coming out and of understanding oneself. You will meet people interested in helping you on your journey to honest, open, celebrated living. If you are an ally, this event will help you to reach greater understanding on how to love and support LGBTQI+ persons.

The event will be held on Saturday November 17, 2018 from 2:30pm-9:00pm at All Pilgrim’s Christian Church, 500 Broadway East, Seattle, WA 98102.

Visit https://rediscoveringfamily.brownpapertickets.com for registration information. If you have any questions, contact Paul Georgeson at georgesonp@gmail.com.



“The Image of God is Like” Confirmation Retreat

Join us for our first of 2 confirmation retreats of the year. We will be discovering all the different images of God throughout the Bible and how we can continue to connect them to our faith today. There will be chances to learn, play, worship, take hay rides, and just have fun. Sign up and join us today!

Who: Confirmation/Middle School Youth (6th-8th grade)

What: Confirmation Retreat “The Image of God is Like”

When: Friday, November 16 – Saturday, November 17

Time: Leave St. John: Friday @ 5:00pm Arrive back at St. John: Saturday @ 5:00pm

Where: Camp Gilead

Cost: $50

Learn more at www.roaringlyons.org.


Thanks from Budapest

On October 5,  2018, PRLC member Zachary Courter was ordained to Ministry of Word and Sacrament at City Park Lutheran Church in Budapest, Hungary, where he is working in the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission with his wife,  the Rev. Rachel Eskesen.

Dear Phinney Ridge Phamily!

Thank you so much for your prayers and support throughout the many years as I’ve continued down this road following God’s call. I very much appreciated the stole and the Trinity icon, as well as all of the cards and notes of support! I look forward to our paths crossing again soon. Thank you again for everything!

My ordination was an incredible celebration of what it means to be church in the world, and what it means to be church–together. It was a joy to receive Bishop Unti’s (ELCA Northwest Washington) and Bishop Fabiny’s (Lutheran Church in Hungary’s Presiding Bishop) blessing on my ministry of preaching/teaching and administering the church’s sacraments. But it was not just the bishop’s blessings, but those in my church family from near and far who were there in person and in spirit.

The service took place on Friday October 5th, at 5pm. The ordination service was bilingual in English and Hungarian, including Bishop Unti’s sermon being translated and preached by Pastor Aradi György of the Budapest-Fasori Evangelical Lutheran Church community. We sang, we cried, we laughed, we shared fellowship, we ate bread and drank wine–followed by cake and goulash. In short, we unabashedly worshiped God.

Thank you so much for your interest and encouragement in my development as a leader in the church. By God’s grace and your support, I have found myself affirmed in a call to God’s people and the church on earth.

If you’d like to be in touch about how to connect with, or enhance your ongoing relationship, with the YAGM Central Europe Program or City Park Lutheran, please email me at zach.courter@gmail.com with questions.

In Christ,

Pastor Zachary Courter