A Blog by Bishop Christopher deForest...

June 29, 2022

“On The Way” is a play on the word “synod,” which comes from two Biblical Greek words, syn and hodos. These can mean “on the road with” and also “walking with” – since most people in Bible times (and around the world still today) got from place to place on foot. My intention is to connect with you in this way every couple weeks. I will also occasionally include a video version to go with the text.


Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on June 24 to overturn Roe V. Wade, the anxiety and anguish across our already divided country has risen to new heights.  As our Synod’s pastor, and as your bishop, I find that there are no better words to be offered, than the response from our Presiding Bishop, Elizabeth Eaton. If you have not read it, find it here.  And let me state clearly, that I fully support every word she writes.

I also encourage all of us, to read or re-read our ELCA Social Statement on Abortion. As I noted last month, this short document still does such a strong, faithful job of teaching and guiding us, all of us across the ELCA, using the frameworks of our Lutheran heritage, the Bible, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. When I read it again this past weekend, it helped to clear my head and clarify what we are called to say and do as individuals, as congregations, as synod, and as church. Again, I won’t summarize it here, because our Presiding Bishop does that so well in her most recent Pastoral Message, June 24.

On the same ELCA web page where the Social Statement is posted, you will also find other links to a Study Guide, to an Introduction, and to a brief Summary. These can be useful for self-study, or for use within families or in small groups, at home and in your congregation. If you also want to encounter a deeper engagement with this Social Statement – our own United Lutheran Seminary is offering a SPECIAL ZOOM EVENT on Wednesday, August 3rd at 7pm. It will be led by Rev. Amy Reumann, Director of Advocacy for the ELCA. The event is open to everyone, even though the target audience is listed as pastors and deacons. I will be there. Click here to see the flyer and to register.

The ELCA Bishops of all the Pennsylvania Synods were invited to meet on Zoom last Friday night – called together by Tracey DePasquale, Director of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in PA (LAMPa). She also encouraged us to use our Social Statement on Abortion as a starting point, and pledged to provide us with additional timely and helpful information, so we can understand what is going on at the state level around issues of abortion and other personal rights and protections that may be challenged by upcoming Supreme Court actions. As it comes in, we will pass this info on to you, through Synod eNews, our website, and this blog space.

Anticipating this ruling by the SCOTUS, two weeks ago, a resolution was brought forth to our NEPA Synod Assembly, to call for the ELCA “…to investigate and ascertain the impact that any overturning of Roe v Wade … will have upon Pastoral Counseling, the Pastor/Client relationship and the Rostered Ministers and Social Ministry Agencies and Organizations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.” The full text of the resolution can be found here. This resolution has now been “memorialized” – that is, it has been passed on for action at the Churchwide Assembly in Columbus, Ohio in August of this year. So even here in NE PA, the work we do together can benefit the whole church.

All of us are called to pray, to listen, and to act in ways that uphold our life together, our care and commitment for all God’s children, all our neighbors – especially the poor and powerless – and to follow the love we hear in scripture and see through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On the Way of Jesus together,

Bishop Christopher deForest