Credential:  Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a Reconciling in Christ Congregation. Its membership and lineage comes from every inhabited continent of the world (6% African Descent, 2% Asian Descent, 10% Central American Descent, 40% European Descent, 1% Indigenous Descent, 1% Jewish Descent, 35% Mexican Descent, 5% South American Descent). The membership of Our Saviour’s  includes people who are LGBTQIA+ (50% of the total membership of the congregation). Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church is a founding member of Faith in Community, now known as Faith in the Valley, an interfaith community organizing effort bringing voice to the voiceless, fighting systemic racism, and holding those in power accountable to the needs of the people of the Central Valley of California. In 2021, Our Saviour’s was the fiscal agent for “Round 2” of the California Immigrant Resilience Grant ($300,000) — a Grant procured by Pastor Nelson Rabell-Gonzalez from Faith in the Valley and distributed to undocumented individuals and families who did not qualify for stimulus checks or any other governmental assistance during the pandemic (Pastor Rabell, in fact, procured over 1.2 million dollars during the worst of the pandemic to help these individuals and families). Our Saviour’s has been, and continues to be, a fierce advocate for the LGBTQIA+ Community (https://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education-lab/article166401017.html), housing in its facilities Trans-E-Motion and the Spectrum Center, two preeminent LGBTQIA+ advocacy organizations in Fresno; sponsoring and participating in the Fresno Pride Parade and Festival; and hosting the Transgender Day of Visibility. In 2018, Pastor William Knezovich was named the 2018 Grand Marshal of the Fresno Pride Parade and Festival for his work on behalf of the LGBTQIA+ Community, the first clergy person in its 28-year history to receive this honor. Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church has always been supportive of the Sierra Pacific Synod and the ELCA. Whenever the Synod Assembly was held in Fresno, Our Saviour’s hosted the Synod Council, providing the council space for their meetings, preparing meals for the Council, and introducing the Council to the rituals and dances of our Aztec Dancers and Ballet Folklorico. Members of Our Saviour’s also have volunteered at Synod Assemblies and other Synod events. One member of Our Saviour’s has served on the Synod Council.

 

Purpose: The following resolution petitions the Presiding Bishop of the Church, Rev Elizabeth Eaton, the Conference of Bishops, and other appropriate bodies within the Church to remove Bishop Megan Rohrer from their office and convene disciplinary hearings for their role as Pastor of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in San Francisco and actions taken as Bishop in the firing of Pastor Rabell-Gonzalez, and that the Presiding Bishop, Rev Elizabeth Eaton, the Conference of Bishops, and other appropriate bodies within the Church remove the current Sierra Pacific Synod Council from their positions and enjoin them and Bishop Megan Rohrer from making any decisions on behalf of the Sierra Pacific Synod until a full investigation of Bishop Megan Rohrer and the Synod Council as pertains to their collusion in the firing of the Reverend Nelson Rabell-Gonzalez on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12, 2021, is completed. 

 

Resolution for the Removal of Megan Rohrer as Bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod

And the Removal of the Synod Council of the Sierra Pacific Synod

 

Whereas at the 2021 Synod Assembly, Bishop Mark W. Holmerud, the vetting committee (if there was one), and  Pastor Megan Rohrer chose      NOT to reveal to the Synod Assembly that Pastor Megan Rohrer was in ongoing litigation — (then-Pastor Megan Rohrer was being sued by members of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church [“Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Francisco, Case No CGC-18-567512: Brenda Moore et al., plaintiffs — v. — Megan Rohrer et al., defendants”: Order Granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction; Restraining Order granted against Megan Rohrer et al.; etc.]) — but demanded that Pastor Nelson Rabell-Gonzalez publicly reveal Pastor Frances Le Bas’ unproven allegations against him, thereby skewing the electoral process for bishop;

 

Whereas the civil lawsuit brought against “Megan Rohrer et al.” revealed Pastor Megan Rohrer’s manipulative use and violation of  the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church Constitution for the purpose of disenfranchising long-time members and creating a new category of voting members, “Friends of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church” (i.e., “Friends of Megan”: people who had little or no affiliation with Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church).  These “Friends of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church” were made voting members of the congregation at a midnight meeting, which included making their 4 and 5 year old children “confirmed voting members” of the congregation causing the Superior Court of the State of California to enjoin (prohibit) any voting actions taken at any congregational meetings (Superior Court of the State of California, Case No CGC-18-567512 — Ruling by The Honorable Richard B. Ulmer Jr., Judge of the Superior Court, October 25, 2019);

 

Whereas the Superior Court of the State of California granted a restraining order against  Pastor Megan Rohrer from using the money in the Grace Infant Care Center’s Wells Fargo account, which Pastor Megan Rohrer had fraudulently appropriated by the use of an illegal resolution to change signature cards at a Wells Fargo Bank branch thus taking control of approximately $70,000 that were, in part, designated tuition fees parents had paid for the care of their infants and toddlers, forcing Pastor Megan Rohrer to return the monies to the Grace Infant Care Center (Superior Court of the State of California, Case No CGC-18-567512 — Ruling by The Honorable Harold E. Kahn, Judge, Superior Court of California, June 26, 2018 and August 1, 2018);

 

Whereas Bishop Megan Rohrer in collusion with the Sierra Pacific Synod Council “ecclesiastically lynched” Pastor Nelson Rabell-Gonzalez of Misión Latina Luterana by defaming his character, questioning his mental stability, painting him as an out of control POC pastor, and denying him due process to defend himself and confront his accusers, mostly members of St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Lodi — the congregation that forced him to resign for his anti-racism work in Lodi and tried to pressure him into signing a non-disclosure agreement, NDA;

 

Whereas, in a Zoom meeting with Pastor Hazel Salazar-Davidson and Pastor William Knezovich, Bishop Megan Rohrer accused Pastor William Knezovich of violating California Whistle Blower Laws and questioning his mental stability (an accusation they have made against others), with the intent of suppressing the letter Pastor William Knezovich sent to the bishop and the vice president of the synod council in which he raised concerns about the false allegation made by Pastor Frances Le Bas, a member of the synod council, against Pastor Nelson Rabell-Gonzalez. Pastor Le Bas had accused him of embezzling money from the California Resilience Immigrant Grant and by implication had accused Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church and Pastor William Knezovich who signed the memorandum of understanding, MOU, on behalf of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church with Faith in the Valley in April 2021 to distribute these monies of embezzlement;

 

Whereas Bishop Megan Rohrer, against the strong advice of their staff, purposely fired Pastor Nelson Rabell-Gonzalez on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12, 2021, causing great emotional harm to the members of  Misión Latina Luterana, Misión Esperanza (a ministry of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church), Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, and Latinx Lutherans throughout the ELCA;

 

Whereas Bishop Megan Rohrer’s approach to pastoral ministry is incompatible with the expectations of ordained clergy of the ELCA — a pattern of abuse, bullying, manipulation of facts, deceit, and character assassination as especially evidenced in the depositions, and sworn statements found in the civil case against Bishop Megan Rohrer and evidenced by Bishop Megan Rohrer’s actions towards those deemed a threat to them and who are of no value to their purpose for the retention of power and control; and

 

Whereas the episcopate of Bishop Megan Rohrer, the first Transgender Bishop of the ELCA, should be cause for great celebration but, instead, by their actions as both Pastor of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in San Francisco and as Bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod, their episcopate is an embarrassment to the LGBTQIA+ members of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church and its Misión Esperanza, the Bishop’s actions, in fact, giving “ammunition” to those who wish the LGBTQIA+ Community harm and reflecting poorly on LGBTQIA+ Christians who seek to live moral and Godly lives to the best of their ability; now, therefore, be it

 

Resolved, that Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church:

 

1. refuses to participate in any activities, meetings, assemblies, or other gatherings of the Sierra Pacific Synod while Bishop Megan Rohrer and the current Synod Council remain in their respective positions. To participate in any activity of the Sierra Pacific Synod at this time, would give tacit approval to the past damage done to Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in San Francisco (now defunct) by Bishop Megan Rohrer; it would be a betrayal of the core values of our Congregation, and would give credence to the current damage and racist “dog whistles” being used against Pastor Nelson Rabell-Gonzalez and the people of Iglesia Santa María Peregrina (people formerly of Misión Latina Luterana);

 

2.      urges a full review by the legal staff of the ELCA of all court documents, sworn testimonies, depositions, and other evidentiary documents found in the public record of the civil case brought against Bishop Megan Rohrer: “Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Francisco, Case No CGC-18-567512: Brenda Moore et al., plaintiffs — v. — Megan Rohrer et al., defendants”,  including the hiring of a forensic accountant;

 

3. demands that the Presiding Bishop, Rev Elizabeth Eaton, and the Conference of Bishops begin the disciplinary process to remove Bishop Megan Rohrer and the Synod Council, which colluded together in the racist defamation of Pastor Nelson Rabell-Gonzalez, denying him due process, and using innuendo and unsubstantiated allegations masked under the veil of “protecting victims” to justify the firing of Nelson Rabell-Gonzalez;

 

4.      urges the Presiding Bishop, Rev Elizabeth Eaton, to make a public apology on behalf of the ELCA to Pastor Nelson Rabell-Gonzalez, his family, and the members of Iglesia Luterana Santa María Peregrina (members formerly of Misión Latina Luterana) in person;

 

5.      demands that all actions taken by Bishop Megan Rohrer and the Synod Council in the firing of Pastor Nelson Rabell be reversed by the Presiding Bishop, Rev Elizabeth Eaton, and/or the Conference of Bishops and that Pastor Nelson Rabell-Gonzalez receive full compensation and back pay from the date of his firing; and

 

6.      begins the process of severing its ties with the ELCA if Bishop Megan Rohrer retains the office of Bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod in order to protect the ongoing mission and ministry of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, its property, and its assets.

 

Mover:  Emma Sultan, Vice President of the Council

Seconders:  Mary Losoya, President of the Council

Rosio Velasco-Stoll, Stewardship Chair and Transgender Advisory Panelist for the

Lt Governor of the State of California

 

Vote: Unanimous

3/22/2022

 

Signed:

 

Congregation Council of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church:

 

Mary Losoya, President

Emma Sultan, Vice President

Abraham Lipman, Secretary

Debby Sultan, Treasurer

 

Lucy Allen, Education Chair

Maxine Easley, Financial Secretary

Jo Ann Hayhurst, Social Ministries Chair

Brian Kurtela, Worship Chair

Randy Velasco-Stoll, Property Chair

Rosio Velasco-Stoll, Stewardship Chair

William Knezovich, Pastor

 

Leadership of Misión Esperanza, a ministry of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church:

 

Lucy Allen, Mission Developer

Miguel Pacheco

Jesús Perales Banuelos

Leonardo Méndez Hernandez