This week at Mt. Carmel...
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Link to the Mt. Carmel Summit Newsletter for November 2020
We are here!!
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, 

May the mercy and compassion of God continue to surround you day by day. I hope this finds all of you safe, well, and hopeful in the midst of these ongoing challenging times. 

This is part one of a two-part article. 

There are a couple of related words that are being used more and more frequently in the news, in articles in some of the journals that we read, and in conversations that we are having with others regarding the uncertain times we are facing. The predicted surge in the numbers of victims of the COVID-19 virus is ever more challenging our emotional well-being. The words that we are hearing over and over again are “anxiety” or “anxious.”

Those two words appear with some frequency in Holy Scripture as well, both in the Old and New Testaments. Mary told the boy Jesus that she and Joseph had been searching for him “in great anxiety.” (Luke 2:48). Saint Paul talked about his own anxieties and anxiousness when he wrote to the Corinthians and Philippians, saying “I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28); he also wrote about being anxious when he nearly lost his colleague, Epaphroditus, who was at the door of death (Philippians 2:25-30). Peter counseled the early church that faced many challenges when he wrote, “cast all your anxiety on God, because God cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). When Jesus spoke about this part of our emotional well-being, the word he used is most often translated as “worry.” Matthew, Mark, and Luke repeatedly tell us Jesus encouraged his followers with the words, “…do not worry…” and Paul, after admitting his own anxiety earlier in his letter, wrote to the Christians in Philippi, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Recently the ELCA Conference of Bishops met with Mary Ann Schwab in our weekly Zoom meeting together, and we had a conversation about anxiety. Following are a few thoughts that I found helpful in that time that the Bishops had together.

The Reverend Dr. Peter Steinke (who just recently died) wrote: “Anxiety is not a negative. Anxiety just is. It becomes a negative when it intensifies or becomes prolonged because it interferes with our thinking. Anxiety is an informer, rather than an enemy. It tells us something about ourselves and the world around us.

Mary Ann Schwab said: “it is important to remember that anxiety is part of nature and serves a purpose. It alerts us...It helps us cope...It forces us to respond in some ways...It can motivate us to change, to see things in a new way...It is a basic emotional and automatic response to a real or perceived threat.” 

We all know anxiety is able to powerfully affect our thoughts, feelings, and actions. The Bishops spent some of our time together talking about the difference between acute anxiety and chronic anxiety. We heard how anxious systems within our congregations are taking their toll as the pandemic continues to separate us and redefine us. I will be addressing that more in next week's communique, part two of this article. 

Anxiety is a given in the circumstances under which we have been living these past months as we have faced racial, economic, and societal tensions; political divisions; and the unrelenting attack of a deadly virus that has the capability of infecting anyone who comes near. Anxiety challenges us individually and finds its way then into our communities and congregations. While I will be writing more about this for next week's communique, I close with a few guidelines that were given to the Bishops as we met together. 

We were encouraged as leaders in an anxious time to remain calm and thoughtful. We were reminded that it is most helpful not to tell others what they should do, but rather define for ourselves what we are going to do. We were urged to lead with confidence and courage and stay as connected as we are able in safe environments with our colleagues, other leaders, and the congregations of our synods. We were counseled to take the needed and necessary time to think through our leadership decisions carefully and thoroughly, and only then go into the face of anxiety providing a sense of calm, care, thoughtfulness, and well-defined ways to move forward. We were reminded that it is not helpful in an anxious system to tell others to “calm down,” but rather move into the midst of that anxiety with our own self-differentiated postures of calm and peacefulness. 

Next week I will share other words of wisdom and good counsel that were shared with us as we face the critical moments of these times together. Let us continue to be a people of prayer, and especially may we keep Bishop Emeritus Dean Nelson and his family in our hearts and prayers as they grieve the loss of their beloved spouse, mother, and grandmother, Marianne. 

God bless and keep us all.

Bishop Murray D. Finck (Interim)
You may sign up to sponsor a child at Christms by clicking the picture above, or by contacting the church office. We have 6 children awaiting sponsors as of today. Each child's name comes with a wish list for you to choose from when shopping, and instructions for wrapping and returning the gifts to Mt. Carmel. 

Church phone: 805-544-2133
Click the picture for the order of worship
Pastor Richard Rollefson leads this quiet service each Wednesday evening at 7:00pm on Zoom and in person. Click the link below to join the meeting, or join by phone and enter the meeting ID and passcode. Please use the RSVP link below (blue picture) to let us know you would like to attend in person.

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

Passcode: 695333
Book Discussion Group
Mondays at 6:30pm on Zoom

Our book group is currently reading and discussing 'The Book of Joy'. The book is a series of conversations between interfaith religious leaders the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu. It is available from Amazon in a hard copy or electronic version. Click the Zoom link below to join the discussion.

Click here to join the Zoom meeting

Meeting ID: 862 7971 6007
Passcode: 419787
Advent Small Group Series
Four Saturdays In & After Advent:
December 5, 12, 19, and 26
6:30 PM on Zoom

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. There is a free opening educational webinar run by ELCA Young Adults on Monday, November 30 5:30-6:30pm PST (
you can register here), and on each following Saturday we will meet on Zoom as a Mt. Carmel small group utilizing the pilgrimage’s weekly resources.

Contact Monica at to learn more or to RSVP for the small group.
My Favorite Things Survey

Renewed restrictions and cautions against travel and family gatherings have me thinking of my favorite holiday things. Memories of gatherings with family and friends, favorite foods and traditions, even holiday wishes for my loved ones near and far led me to create a fun little survey. I hope you'll join me in sharing some of your favorite holiday joys. Click the link below for the survey. You can fill it out as many times as you like. Responses will be shared in the December Summit newsletter and in the the Vistas.

Wishing you peace and joy,


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!

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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