This week at Mt. Carmel...
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Link to the Mt. Carmel Summit Newsletter for November 2020
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The church is closed to walk-in traffic, but you can still reach us by phone and email. 

Phone: 805-544-2133
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Prayer requests may be sent to the church office by email or phone

Celebrating God’s grace through worship, learning and service.
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From the Bishop....

Dear People of God of the Southwest California Synod,

This is part two of a communique which I began last week about “anxiety,” something that is being discussed, experienced, and addressed more and more as this prolonged pandemic continues to take its toll upon the world population. If you did not read last week’s message, you may wish to read it first. Let me begin this week by reminding us of what was quoted last week from the Rev. Dr. Peter Steinke when he wrote: “Anxiety is not a negative. Anxiety just is. Anxiety is an informer, rather than an enemy it tells us something about ourselves and the world around us.” 

My communications with you these two weeks are based on a learning moment I had along with other ELCA Bishops as we “sat at the feet” of Mary Ann Schwabe. As I hurried to get the word out last week, I forgot to insert Mary Ann's credentials. She works in the Office of the ELCA Presiding Bishop. Her title is Deacon and Natural Systems Coordinator. Mary Ann has been studying and applying the Bowen Family Systems’ theory since 1994. She shared with us much of the information in these two articles.

Mary Ann reminded us how normal it is for all of us to have times of some anxiety as we face various situations in life. However, there are distinctly different levels of anxiety, and recognizing them and the tendencies around them is helpful. Acute anxiety occurs when there is an immediate or imminent threat. A person experiences fear and their natural responses may be fight, flight, or freeze behaviors. In some situations that kind of anxiety or fear may help to protect a person from harm or danger.

Chronic anxiety is quite different.  “Chronic anxiety occurs in response to uncertain or distant threats, often more imagined than real, often associated with relationships,” writes Michael Kerr, author of Bowen Theory’s Secrets. “Humans are commonly less consciously aware of chronic anxiety than of acute anxiety,” continues Kerr. Chronic anxiety lessens our abilities to learn, magnifies how we see other’s differences, pulls us apart, constrains imagination, demands certainty, diagnoses others negatively, increases unhealthy secrecy, seeks immediate relief, and leads to a tendency to seek like-minded togetherness. Chronic anxiety “runs quiet and deep,” wrote Dr. Walter Smith.

When chronic anxiety finds its way into congregations and other family or groups systems, then reactivity increases; criticism, blame, and fault-finding become more prevalent; people insist on their own way through threats and manipulation; factions and herding are created; leadership turns over frequently; people react to new ideas; secrecy increases; polarization happens; and there is a strong desire for quick fixes.

If we start to see these signs in the systems with which we are working (and how can we not during a deadly pandemic, interwoven with social tensions, political unrest, and dramatic environmental changes), leadership is called to be present in ways that drive down the anxiety. Healthy leaders show up and engage in thoughtful and neutral listening. They ask good questions that appeal to the whole brain. Such leadership uses objectivity in decision-making, refrains from being drawn into the middle of others’ emotional fields, and helps people seek their own resolutions to address their anxieties.

Someone has discovered that the Bible encourages its readers “to fear not” 365 times, one for each day of the year. To the church in Philippi, Saint Paul wrote, “let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (4:6) To the Galatians, the Apostle wrote, “the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control...If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.” (5:22,23,25)

I close with this quote Mary Ann gave us from a sermon entitled “Faith and a Little Anxiety,” preached by Rev. Doug Taylor: “So instead of trying to fix anybody, I stand witness to the resources you have within you for your own healing. This is not simply for counseling and pastoral meetings; this is a stance for preaching, teaching a class, leading a committee, and really any situation in which I am wanting to accomplish something. My integrity is my strongest asset. My presence, not my expertise, is what I have to offer. But that is not an easy position, because I and most people have a deep urge to step in and help people, to fix them, to make everything better, to keep things smooth. (Edwin) Friedman said, ‘we live in the land of the quick fix.’ What is needed is maturity, stamina, and personal responsibility - not expertise, information, or even empathy. 'The emphasis is on strength, not pathology; on challenge, not comfort; on self-differentiation, not herding for togetherness.'”

God keep us all during these ongoing trying times. I am praying with you for the peace which passes all understanding,

Bishop Murray D. Finck (Interim)
Click the picture for the order of worship

Advent Evening Prayer
Wednesdays at 7:00PM
December 2, 9, 16 & 23

In the midst of the busyness of the season around us you are invited to join for a time of quiet with “Waiting and the Word,” series of midweek meditative evening prayer services. Each week will focus on an Advent theme in a contemplative setting. The Dec. 23 worship will be a “Longest Night/Blue Christmas” worship that acknowledges the challenges of this season of celebration in the midst of sadness and loss.

Link to WEDNESDAY Evening Zoom Service 
Wednesdays at 7:00 PM
For telephone: +1 669 900 9128
Meeting ID: 867 5095 6162

Passcode: 695333
An Advent Devotional
Please click on the picture above, or the link below, to download a copy of 'Readings 'Round the Advent Wreath' by Pastor Richard. This is a home study guide filled with scriptures, reflections, and prayers for Advent.
Advent Small Group Series
Four Saturdays In & After Advent:
December 5, 12, 19, and 26
6:30 PM on Zoom

Please contact Monica TODAY at to be part of this small group study.

During the Advent season we often talk a lot about the Holy Land of the past without talking much about the Holy Land of the present. What is going on in Bethlehem today? How are we called to accompany our Palestinian siblings in love, joy, hope, peace, and justice? What does this mean for our own advent journey?

ELCA Young Adults and ELCA Peace Not Walls are presenting a 4-week Advent Pilgrimage in Palestine. Young adults from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land will lead us on this pilgrimage through story, education, and theological reflection. We will meet on each Saturday in December via Zoom as a Mt. Carmel small group utilizing the pilgrimage’s weekly resources.
My Favorite Things Survey

Thank you for sharing your favorite things with all of us. We've had too many to post here, but you can see all of the heartwarming messages by clicking on the link below. You're invited to share continue to share your own favorite things for a couple of more weeks by clicking on the bright green survey link.


Virtual Cookie Exchange

It's time to share your holiday treats - virtually, of course! Use the link below to send in your favorite recipe and/or photo of your goodies. We'll post a link to your responses here so that everyone can enjoy with you. The form allows you to upload a copy of your recipe, or type it in. Please contact MaryAnn in the church office if you need assistance.

Virtual Cookie Exchange Link

Matching Gifts Challenge Benefitting the SLO County Food Bank


Use this link to donate to the Mount Carmel matching funds challenge

If you prefer to donate to the matching funds challenge by check, make your check out to the SLO County Food Bank. Write Mt. Carmel Matching Funds Drive on the memo line so that your donation will be properly credited.  Mail to:

Food Bank Coalition of SLO County
1180 Kendall Road
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401


Please do not route your food bank donations through Mount Carmel.  Doing so will delay your donation and make tracking the matching funds challenge donations difficult for the food bank.

Thank you to Mount Carmel for your always generous spirit!

Volunteers from Mt. Carmel prepare and serve a hot lunch for The People's Kitchen program at 40 Prado on the first Friday of each month. Here is a list of our volunteers for Friday, December 4:

Entree - Steve & JoAnn Bennett; Marilyn & Dennis Brown; Sherri Parkinson; Mollie Smith; Cynid Rollefson; Karen Petersen
Salad - Carol Harvey; Wayne Lippold; Rebecca Keisler
Canned Fruit - Dorothy McCoid
Milk - Carol Grosse

Please contact Jan Uder, or the church office at if you are unable to serve this month, or if you would like information on volunteering in the future.
Call for Nominations
SWCA Synod Council & Committees
Deadline April 9, 2021
The Call for Nominations has been updated to include the position of Conference Representative from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Conference.

The Nominating Committee of the Southwest California Synod invites members of synod congregations to prayerfully consider if God is calling them to serve on Synod Council or on a Synod Committee. Elections to fill these positions will take place at the 2021 Synod Assembly, which will take place June 4 - 6. Descriptions of the duties of each open position are linked below. If you are considering serving on the Synod Council, please read the
Synod Council Conflict of Interest Policy here.

We are looking for candidates who have a desire to share their experience, knowledge and passion as leaders in the synod. We need good listeners, critical thinkers, folks with an openness to the Spirit, and a willingness to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns.

The Constitution of the Southwest California Synod states that "no more than four members of the Synod Council, with the exception of the Bishop, may be from the same conference." The nominating committee will take this into account when configuring the ballot and encourages nominees from all the conferences that make up the synod.

Any congregational member in good standing may be nominated and, if elected, serve on the Endowment, Consultation, and Discipline Committees, regardless of their home Conference.

Candidates can self-nominate for open positions by completing the
online nomination form, linked here and below. The online form can also be used to nominate candidates.

Please note that nomination forms for all positions must be submitted no later than Friday April 9, 2021. Those who wish to be considered for open positions who have not submitted their form by that date must be nominated from the Synod Assembly floor. 

The following committee positions are open: 

Endowment Committee Member-at-Large

Consultation Committee

Discipline Committee

The following council positions are open:

Synod Council Vice-President
This position must be filled by a layperson


Synod Council Member-at-Large (ten open positions)
These positions are open to both clergy and laypeople.


Synod Council Youth Representative
This two-year position must be filled by a member of a SWCA Synod congregation in the 10th or 11th grade by the time of the Synod Assembly. 

The position of Conference Representative for the Twin Valleys, Tehachapi, Central Coast, San Gabriel Valley, Los Angeles Metropolitan, and South Bay Conferences are open. If you are interested in a Conference Representative position, please contact your Conference Dean. Conference Representatives are elected at Spring Conference Assemblies and affirmed at Synod Assembly.

Conference Representatives
(Twin Valleys, Tehachapi, Central Coast, San Gabriel Valley, Los Angeles Metropolitan, and South Bay Conferences)


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Mt. Carmel Lutheran Church · 1701 Fredericks St. · San Luis Obispo, CA 93405 · USA

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