The Bishop's Blotter

reflections from Bishop Bill Gohl
Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. –Luke 18:1
This past Sunday, I heard Pastor Michael Dubsky preach at Messiah (Sykesville), and this precis of his message, based on Sunday’s Gospel text, resonated with me:
Jesus concludes the telling of the parable by saying: "And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night?" The lesson seems clear – be persistent, persevere and you will be blessed.
But is that really what this Gospel story is about? Indeed, I want to suggest to you that Jesus was trying to tell his disciples something entirely different.
We believe, you see, in a God of grace, a God who freely gives his people what they need. Jesus says over and over again: "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." And over and over again we are told in the Bible that Jesus went to the cross for us, he died for us. The essence of the gospel is found in the scripture that says: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that is not your own doing, it is a gift of God."
So how can we take this passage of scripture and say that if we do something, if we work at praying hard enough, if we just hang in there and pester God without mercy then God will roll over and give us what we want? This reduces the gospel to a matter of works and it makes a mockery out of any statement that tries to assert that God is loving and giving.
Furthermore - because it reduces the gospel to a matter of works, it lays guilt trips on some people and creates pride in others, "If you try hard enough - God will give you stuff - see what I have..." And, "If you don't try hard enough - God will not listen to you - you will not get what you want or need..."
How can we honestly say such things?  How can we tell the person who is suffering from cancer, "You haven't prayed hard enough"? How can we suggest to the person whose child has been killed, "If you had remembered to pray to God every day this would not have happened"? And how can we say to someone who is out of work or is hungry or homeless, “If you prayed harder you wouldn’t be in this situation”?
"Persevere and you will be blessed" is not the gospel. Persistence and perseverance are important of course: faithfulness, commitment, and hard work do take us places in this world, but it is not the good news we celebrate here each week.
The real lesson of today's gospel is not "persist and you will get a blessing." The real lesson is found in our answer to the question, "Who do you trust?"

Here's what's happening in our synod!

(and you can click here to submit a new announcement)

Register for FreeRide Now!

All the information you need to register your middle school youth for FreeRide is now available online! On our website, you'll find information about the event, our scholarship form, a registration worksheet, links to register online, and more. Come to Camp Letts, November 18-20, to experience this great event for 6th-8th graders.

CLAIM Cooking Class

The Coalition of Lutherans Advancing in Mission invites you to an in-person or online cooking class, Taste & See, on Friday, November 4 at 6:30 p.m. The in person class will be held at St. John's Lutheran Church (4403 Pimlico Road, Baltimore, MD 21215) or you may join on Zoom. The $30 registration fee includes the class, led by Certified Health Coach Cheryl Marshall, as well as the ingredients you will need to cook one serving of a vegan dish. For more information, to register, or to make a donation to CLAIM for their continued work, visit our website.

ELCA Draft Social Message

The ELCA's Draft Social Message on the Climate Crisis is posted for public comment, now through December 2. Social messages are ELCA social teaching documents on specific social topics; these documents shape ELCA policy and help members discern how to respond to an issue. Public feedback helps the drafters know how the document could be more clear, helpful and faithfully Lutheran. You can find the draft message here and the accompanying survey here. Questions or longer responses may be submitted by email.

Dunning Lecture

St. Mary's Ecumenical Institute's 2022 Annual Dunning Lecture will feature Rev. Edgardo Colón-Emeric, Ph.D., Dean of Duke Divinity School, on the topic: "Romero and the Preferential Option for the Poor: An Ecumenical Praxis.” The lecture will be held on Thursday, November 10 at 7:30 p.m. in Laubacher Hall (5400 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210) and will be broadcast by Zoom. Event is free to join in person or online, but registration is requested.

Christmas In DEManD

Is your congregation or ministry hosting a Christmas-themed event this holiday season? All such events will be listed in a special edition of our weekly newsletter, In DEManD, to be released on Friday, November 4. You can submit them on the special form on our website (look for the same Christmas tree graphic you see here!) by Tuesday, November 1.

Christmas events hosted by congregations, ministries, and other organizations will not appear in the regular weekly newsletter. Please note that we are unable to include Christmas Eve or Christmas Day worship services.

Faithful Green Leaders Training

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake is providing free online learning opportunities through their Faithful Green Leaders training program to help congregations acquire the knowledge, skills, tools, and support they need to lead their communities in being good stewards of the waters of the Chesapeake region. Participating congregations may qualify for a $500 grant to use for their projects. You can learn more and sign up here.

Transitional Foster Parents Needed

Due to a broken immigration system, children are still being separated from their families at our nation's borders. As a result, there is an urgent need for transitional foster parents to care for these children on the road to reunification, particularly in Baltimore. Learn more about this need and how you can help by watching the webinar from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, downloading these FAQs, or visiting their website.

Webinar for Women in Ministry

Women in ministry are invited to join Dr. Crystal Hall on Monday, October 24 at 12 p.m. for a webinar titled "Compassion, Not Sacrifice." This workshop will show you, step by step, how to create more compassion and let go of the expectations of sacrifice holding you back. You’ll learn actionable coaching tools you can apply right away to create more compassion and less sacrifice in your life and ministry. Claim your spot today with complimentary registration online

Holiday Grief Seminar

The Living Legacy Foundation will be sharing their "Handling the Holidays" seminar at St. Luke's Lutheran Church (1601 Frederick Street, Cumberland, MD 21502) on Thursday, November 17 at 6 p.m. Helpful tips for navigating the holiday season while grieving the loss of a loved one are provided. Family and friends are welcome. Please RSVP to Wendy Upchurch at 301-697-5444.


Ellen Krich will receive the Church’s gift of Ordination to Word and Sacrament Ministry on Saturday, October 22 at 5 p.m. The Liturgy will be celebrated at Epiphany Lutheran Church (4301 Raspe Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21206). Pastors, Deacons and Members of the Order of St. Stephen are invited to vest and process, red stoles. Ellen has been called to Christus Victor (Parkville).


The Rev. Charlene Curtis will be installed as Chaplain of The Village at Rockville (9701 Veirs Drive, Rockville, MD 20850) on Saturday, October 29 at 3 p.m. Pastors, Deacons and Members of the Order of St. Stephen are invited to vest and process, red stoles. 

The Rev. Dr. Paul Baglyos will be installed as Lead Pastor of Evangelical Lutheran Church (31 E Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701) on Saturday, October 29 at 5:30 p.m. Pastors, Deacons and Members of the Order of St. Stephen are invited to vest and process, red stoles. 

The Rev. Matthew Pensinger will be installed as Senior Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church (21 Carroll Street, Westminster, MD 21157) on Sunday, October 30 at 3 p.m. Pastors, Deacons and Members of the Order of St. Stephen are invited to vest and process, red stoles.

Your Neck of the Woods

events happening in local congregations

On Sunday October 23 at 1:30 p.m. Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church (4605 Belair Road, Baltimore, MD 21206) invites you to celebrate their 180th Congregational Anniversary. Bishop Gohl will preach and the Maryland State Boychoir will be performing, as well as other special musical guests. A free Italian dinner will be served in the Parish Hall following worship.
The Colgate Community Ministry @ St. Peter and New Light Lutheran Church invite you to celebrate Reformation Day with Beer and Hymns at Dundalk's favorite brewery, Key Brewing (2500 Grays Road, Dundalk, MD 21222), on Sunday, October 30 from 3-5 p.m. An offering will be collected to support ongoing disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico and Florida. Non-alcoholic beverages and snacks will be provided. You can learn more and RSVP on the Facebook event.

The Colgate Community Ministry @ St. Peter (7834 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224) will also host a carry-out Sour Beef & Dumpling Dinner on Saturday, October 22 from 4-5:30 p.m. The cost will be $15 for a dinner of sour beef, dumplings, braised cabbage, applesauce, and a dessert. There will be limited seating in the Fellowship Hall for those who prefer to eat their dinner on the premise. For reservations or information contact the church office at 410-288-0537, and learn more from the Facebook event. To pick up meals, please use the Bank Street entrance.

The Generosity Corner

Building Puentes

We are so grateful for your support of Building Puentes in the wake of Hurricane Fiona. Bishop Gohl is requesting that a special offering be taken by the congregations and worshiping communities in our synod for this special need on Reformation Sunday, October 30, 2022.

Building Puentes is a partnership with the Metro D.C. Synod and the Caribbean Synod to give support, aid and relief to the people and ministries who need financial support now more than ever. Not one penny of this special offering will stay within our synod - every bit of the total gifts collected will go to the Building Puentes ministry fund. Thank you for your continued generosity in supporting our siblings in Christ in the Caribbean Synod.
Give now!

Save the Date!


Bookkeeper | Christ the King Episcopal (Woodlawn)
Music Minister | St. John's (Essex)

To read more about these positions or items, please visit the Classifieds page on our synod's website.
We pray together...

for the work of Lutheran Disaster Response, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and Lutheran World Relief;
for the people of Ukraine, Russia, and the surrounding countries receiving refugees, for relief workers and refugees, and our service personnel who are deployed or on alert;
for the people of Afghanistan, Haiti, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Belarus and the Church in the Holy Land – particularly Jerusalem, for all who pray alongside family and friends who are living in the midst of fear and uncertainty;
for Sarah Adams and Pastor Ed Kay (St. Paul’s, Lutherville), who were married on Sunday;
for Pastor Jim & Lindsay Hamilton (Church on the Square, Canton), whose newborn daughter Magnolia has been in and out of the hospital – and for a difficult situation that the Hamiltons are experiencing around the physical wellbeing of their home;
for Tony Magturo (Youth Director, Good Shepherd, Frederick), hospitalized for a significant infection;
for Wallace Swanson, father of Pastor Daniel Swanson (Christ, LaVale), receiving hospice care;
for Bob Sutliff, Edna Rau, and Pastor Richard Stewart (Professor Emeritus, United Lutheran Seminary/Philadelphia Campus), receiving palliative care at home;
for the people of Luther Chapel (Petersville), who are in a time of discernment;
for the Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, for Pastor Nelson Rabell and the Iglesia Luterana Santa María Peregrina Community, for the Sierra Pacific Synod and Bishop Claire Burkat;
and for the ongoing health, peace, and healing of Marilyn Hembrock, Theresa Carr, Matthew, Abby, Grace Planalp, Sallie Gartside, OSSD, Debbie, Casey, Ryan, Gail Wilson, OSSD, Alexa, Debbie, Pastor Lura Groen, Ana Porres, Lindsay, Linda Asplin, Matthew Herzberg, Kathy, Cora King, Pastor Harry Wolpert, Thomas, Tybron, Patricia Magwood Gambrill, Alex, Virginia, Lee, Pastor Gordon Narveson, Alicia, Bobbie, Ashley Brocious, Joshua Lafferty, Elfriede Kiesling, Doris Anderson, Eli, and Deacon Laura Heller.
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