At Home Abroad

Group 236

The Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod is the smallest synod geographically in the ELCA. Unlike many of the ELCA’s 65 synod bishops, Bishop Graham could probably drive across the synod in an hour or two. But among the synod’s 77 congregations is a very far-flung one in Bermuda, which is included in the synod’s territory.

Peace Lutheran, BermudaThe Rev. Karsten Decker is interim pastor of Peace Lutheran Church, the ELCA’s sole congregation in the island country of Bermuda. He said the congregation is “like a big family” as well as “very committed, open-minded, spiritual and intellectual.”

The congregation has about 100 members, with about 40 in worship on a typical Sunday.

As in many congregations, members at Peace come from all walks of life – ranging from a taxi driver to a government clerk to a CEO of a company. Many are expatriates from the U.S., Canada or Germany.

Although Bermuda holds a place in the minds of Americans as a paradise, a tourist destination and a far-away escape from the mainland, being far-flung and isolated has its drawbacks.

“Even in times of the jet age and the Internet and modern communication, we sometimes feel left out [as members of the synod and the ELCA],” said Pr. Decker. Mail delivery to the island is slow, for example, and getting materials takes a long time.

The country’s nature as a offshore reinsurance center also means that workers and families come and go. Dealing with transient congregation membership is challenging as well.

Pr. Decker has been drawn in by the discussion about ministry with young adults at this assembly, as this is an issue that his congregation is also concerned about.

Pr. Decker and members hope to strengthen the communication and connection with the synod and the rest of the ELCA. He hopes that the synod continues to recognize the congregation and take its concerns seriously.

He invited members of congregations in the synod to come to Bermuda as tourists — and also visit Peace Lutheran on Sunday morning for worship. You’ll feel right at home there despite being far from U.S. —  because you’ll still be in the synod.