News and Resources from the Upstate New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.


Welcome to the New Upstate New York Synod Council

After reconfiguring the Synod Council, in order to make it more flexible and streamlined, the following persons were elected by the Synod Assembly to serve:

Rev. John Macholz, Bishop-Elect
Mr. Thomas Madden, Vice-President
Ms. Patrice Sampson-Bouchard, Secretary
Mr. Fred Risser, Treasurer
Rev. Aileen Robbins (Genesee Finger Lakes)
Ms. Alyssa Strassburg (At Large Youth)
Rev. Becca Ehrlich (Southwestern)
Mr. Christopher George (Niagara Frontier)
Rev. Frank Hanrahan (Dean’s Representative)
Rev. Imani Dodley (Genesee Finger Lakes)
Rev. John Saraka (Central Crossroads)
Rev. Norma Malfatti (Southern Tier)
Ms. Samantha Rossi (Hudson Mohawk)
Rev. Sara Litzner (Foothills)
Ms. Sharon Hamilton (Southwestern)
Ms. Susan Fayle (Niagara Frontier)

The new Synod Council has already been hard at work at an orientation retreat, along with the Conference Deans and Synod Staff. Please hold them in prayer as they begin their work.

Congratulations to all who were elected. Thanks be to God for those who are willing to serve the church in these ways. It is a delight to have such a strong leadership base as the Upstate New York Synod moves into the future.

New Synod Council Gets to Work

By: Patrice Sampson-Bouchard

The newly elected (and smaller!) Synod Council (SC) met for the first time since the 2014 Synod Assembly gathering at the beautiful Notre Dame retreat center in Canandaigua, NY for an overnight meeting. Rev. Chuck Schwarz led the start of the session with an inspiring biblical study with the theme of Climbing Mountains and Crossing Deserts. The meeting allowed the newly formed SC to get to know each other through study, orientation to the work of the Synod Council, and fellowship. Synod Vice President, Tom Madden led the Council in understanding the responsibilities, function, working guidelines and principals of the SC as well as the governance role of the SC which uses a policy-based operational model. SC members also learned more about the Synod finances and budget. Additionally, a Synod Council Covenant document was introduced for the SC’s review with further discussion and agreement on the Covenant to be completed at the fall SC meeting. Regular work of the SC was conducted principally around approving the Dean’s recommended Roster changes, filling the Youth SC seat and deciding on the staggered terms of the SC At-large seats. The SC also discussed aspects of the transition of the Bishop. The meeting concluded with uplifting worship and a joyous sending-out to enjoy the remainder of a beautiful Upstate day.

We Did It Again! – Thank you.

The results are in and the Upstate New York Synod has achieved OVER 65% participation in the Portico online health assessment!

Actually, 77.39% of you participated before April 30. Way to go!!!

Congregations that contribute to the Portico Benefits Services health plan will receive a 2% refund on their contributions from January to April 2014. They will see a 2% discount for the remainder of 2014. Synod-wide that frees for mission approximately $21,000 of administrative costs across all participating congregations and the synod office in one year! That is up $1,000 from last year.

In addition, 89 people in our synod earned $150 for taking the Mayo Clinic Health Assessment.

Synod Council Report – April 2014

By: Patrice Sampson-Bouchard, Secretary of the Synod

The April meeting of the Upstate New York Synod Council of the ELCA was held at Christ the King Retreat Center in Syracuse, with the overriding message of “Go in Peace and do something!” The meeting accomplished the following:

  • Continued reflection and discussion of Peter Steinke’s book, A Door Set Open 
  • Conducted the Annual Meeting of Lutheran Social Services (LSS) Group, Inc. which was called to order by Bishop Jerge while President of LSS, Tom Holt, gave the Annual Report. Overall, LSS served 2300 people during the fiscal year and ended the year in a strong financial position. The Synod Council also affirmed the action taken at the Synod Council October 2013 meeting of electing four LSS board members.
  • Bishop Jerge provided a process for discussion of Synod Priorities as they relate to Synod Core Values and how these values are reflected in the Synod Budget.
  • Voting on the Deans report of Roster changes
  • Rev. Judith Van Osdol, Director for Evangelical Mission (DEM), provided an update on the Synod Stewardship Table and the Regional Renewal Teams.
  • Mr. Fred Risser, Treasurer, provided a favorable financial report driven by a strong cash position, favorable annual CPA audit, positive net income and favorable trend in mission income giving as well as the Synod’s giving to the ELCA. The finance committee also presented, and the Synod Council approved, the 2015 Mission Proposal which will go to the 2014 Synod Assembly for approval.
  • Dean John Macholz shared a moving personal story regarding the issue of Distracted Driving which will be further emphasized and presented at the June Synod Assembly.
  • Affirmed that a Health and Wellness funds grant be given to support Camp Noah, a Lutheran Disaster Response day-camp program, to be held in Fort Plains, NY.
  • Continued update of the Bishop Election Process, the 2014 Synod Assembly planning and the revisions to the Synod Council structure. It was confirmed that Synod Council, Vice President Tom Madden is available to serve again as is Synod Council Treasurer, Fred Risser.
  • Hudson Mohawk graciously assisted with the meeting devotions, prayers and fellowship event.

Thanks-giving, Honoring, and Remembering

By: Rev. Marie C. Jerge, bishop

The Upstate New York Synod has been the recipient of contributions that have been made in honor or memory of someone. Somehow I always feel that we are doubly blessed when we get gifts like this. Not only do we have the witness of someone supporting the life and ministry of the church by sharing their resources, but we also get a glimpse at the ways that the people of God have been influenced by saints past and present. We do not have permission to publicize the names of individual givers, but we give thanks for all who have been generous and especially for those who have inspired such generosity.

During 2013 gifts to the Feed the Roots of Leadership Campaign have been given

In Memory of:

Alicia Kennedy (by Emanuel, Corning)
Rita Caro Mainville
Charles and Barbara May

In Honor of:

Pastor Mary Johnson’s 25th Anniversary of Ordination (Messiah, Rochester)
In thanksgiving for Pastor Paul Rees-Rohrbacher and Karen Lapierre
Bishop Jerge’s 35th Anniversary of Ordination
The Marriage of Pastors Katie Yahns and Jeff Kane
Pastor John and Lin Macholz

During 2013 gifts to the Bishop’s Appeal for mission support have been given

In memory of:

Loved Ones
Susan Hilton
Molly Halsten
Elsa Schulz Pierce
Olive Ziegenfus
Chloe Nichols
William Reynheer

In honor of:

The Rev. Judith VanOsdol
Nan Bader
Bishop Marie Jerge
The Rev. Keg Gahagen
Kathy Neugent and Karen Brundige
Birth of Evangeline Mira Luisi

During 2013 and 2014 gifts weres given to the Synod Mission Fund

In memory of:

Pastor Mark Frickey
Pastor W. Donald Miller
Pastor Kathleen E. Gahagen Faust