News Update: Discernment Meetings, New Facebook Group, Sunday Worship

Here’s the latest from Esperanza:

Discernment Meetings

We’re underway with the online meetings we’ve set up to take the place of the day-long discernment workshop that had been set for March 22. Pastor Miguel Gomez-Acosta from the Grand Canyon Synod office is leading groups through a three-part look at Esperanza’s past, present, and dreamed-for future.

Last Sunday, March 22, was the first meeting. Thirteen people participated in the meeting, with three more listening in to capture notes. It was a great conversation and a productive meeting. Particularly interesting: Pastor Miguel shared Esperanza’s “trend report” that shows changes in such things as baptized membership, worship attendance, and our financial situation over the last eight years. Particularly encouraging was the response to his question: If money, volunteers, and time were unlimited, what do you dream Esperanza could do?

This morning,  11 of us engaged in an interesting and in-depth conversation, and 15 are scheduled for Sunday, March 29 (9 a.m.-noon). There’s room for more! Register by emailing Pastor Carol at or call or text her at 224-422-9552.

The thoughts shared in these meetings will feed into the writing of the Ministry Site Profile, which is the document the bishop shares with potential pastoral candidates for Esperanza. The Ministry Site Profile will be available for the congregation to read before it goes to the bishop.

New Facebook Group

For those of you who are on Facebook, we have a new group called Non-news Esperanza. News updates get posted on our official Friends of Esperanza page, which is public. This new group is visible only to members of the group and is intended to be what Liz Farquhar called a “virtual coffee hour”—a chance to stay connected, post photos, request prayer, and share mood-elevating inspirational messages, videos, and funny stuff. To join, just type “Non-news Esperanza” in the search bar, go to the group, and click “join group.”

Not on Facebook? No interest in being on Facebook? You can sign up for free and just do this one group, then deactivate your account when we can all get back together. Just a thought.

Sunday Worship

For this Sunday, March 29, we will not try to do any kind of online worship because we have the meeting with Pastor Miguel. The plan is to get something out to everyone on Saturday night so it’s available for you when you want it.

What exactly we’ll be offering week-to-week going forward is in flux. We do want to maximize opportunities to connect.


We Are Still the Church

Hi, Esperanzans and old and new friends of Esperanza!

Your church council met last night via Zoom and we have some updates and very important information to share with you.

Discernment Meetings with Pastor Miguel

First up is a new format to go forward with discernment meetings with Pastor Miguel Gomez-Acosta from the Grand Canyon Synod staff. Pastor Miguel was going to lead an all-day workshop for us this coming Sunday, but, of course, that’s out. So, instead, he’s offering a three-hour online meeting, which will be available three times (identical meetings).

These meetings will be limited to 20 people to allow for conversation. All you’ll need to have to participate is a computer with a camera and microphone and an internet connection. We’ll send details for how to sign on to participants ahead of the date of the meeting.

Dates are Sunday, March 22, 9:00-noon; Thursday, March 26, 10:00-noon; and Sunday, March 29, 9:00-noon.

Sign up by emailing me at If requests for a particular day exceed 20, I’ll get back to you to ask about an alternate date.

Realizing that a 3-hour online meeting might not sound like much fun under other circumstances, I hope you’ll see this the way one council member does. She said, “I think hanging out with people from church for three hours sounds great! It’s an event!” Plus it’s a great way to invest in Esperanza’s future, as the information gathered will help our Ministry Site Profile Team as we move the process along toward calling a new pastor.

Worship Plans

The plan through the rest of Lent is for me to develop something for each Wednesday and Sunday that will be a mix of scripture, meditation, prayer, maybe music…hoping to be a little bit creative. We’ll recognize Holy Week and Easter as well.

But, then, we’ll plan to do a full Easter celebration two to three weeks after we’re able to resume in-person worship. The two to three weeks is to give us time to prepare some music, maybe Easter breakfast, an egg hunt, etc. Technically every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection anyway; we’ll just go big one week.

Caring for One Another

The council will be calling members to ask who could use some help, who can give some help, and whether people are getting news updates via the newsletter. We’ll compile a list of people able to offer assistance to others, and that list will be available to me, to Joni (our parish administrator), and to members of council. We’ll be able to update it in real time to prevent the same one or two people from getting all the help requests.

If you’re able to pick up some groceries or prescriptions or whatever’s needed for someone who can’t or shouldn’t go out, please let us know when you’re called. Then, if you later become unable for a time, you can let us know that as well and we’ll pause you on the list.

Just so everyone knows:

Pastor Carol –

Joni Thorpe –

Michelle Tinsley (president) –

Rachael Hanania (vice president) –

Peggy Wagner –

Herb Pinske –

Liz Farquhar –

Doris Dorwart –

Jessica Mueller –

Robert Elsaesser –

Paul Gerrish –

Ongoing as Best We Can 

  • I plan to do some online confirmation instruction (though probably not in a class format).
  • Thursday Matters will try meeting via Zoom beginning April 2 at 9:30am.
  • Watch for information about Children of Hope Preschool, which is closed at present.


So … our expenses as a congregation go on even when worship gatherings aren’t going on. We will likely be able to reduce some expenses, but many will remain. And many of our members and regular attenders make their donations to church by bringing their envelopes when they come on Sundays.

You’re probably already ahead of me on this, but: We, as a congregation, need you, as a part of the congregation, to continue your generous donations to support the ongoing and future ministry of Esperanza Lutheran Church.

Esperanza is in a particularly vulnerable stretch here—between regularly called pastors and now enduring this pandemic along with everyone else. We want to assure that we can keep things going as much as possible, including such things as the call process, and also be prepared to jump back in with energy when in-person worship and other ministries get the green light to start up again.

Speaking to everyone at Esperanza on behalf of everyone else at Esperanza, I strongly encourage you to keep up your regular giving. You can do that in one of these three ways:

  • mail your offering to Esperanza Lutheran Church, 2601 E. Thunderhill Pl., Phoenix, AZ 85048 (seal your envelope in some way other than licking it, please)
  • sign up for automatic giving through Vanco (email Joni Thorpe at esperanza@myesperanza or call the church office at 480-759-1515 to ask for a sign-up form)
  • set up your donations as an automatic bill-pay via the online option with your bank

You are an important part of keeping our church strong through this challenging time.

Finally …

Church Council will be meeting every two weeks, at least for a while, as events and advice from government health authorities change from day to day. Please get in touch with any questions, thoughts, and, especially, needs you may have. And please stay in touch with your friends and neighbors.

“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” –Philippians 2:1-1

Latest Updates: Response to Covid-19

UPDATED March 14:

What’s On and What’s Off for Now as We Do Our Part for a Healthy Community

Deborah Hutterer, bishop of the Grand Canyon Synod of the ELCA, sent out the following this morning:

“Having prayerfully considered our current situation with respect to COVID-19, in conversation with bishops from the wider church, and in light of  the quickly evolving nature of this pandemic, I am recommending that all ELCA congregations in the Grand Canyon Synod, regardless of location or number of congregants, suspend public worship gatherings, events and meetings beginning immediately until at least April 1, possibly longer.”

We will follow this clear guidance and suspend worship services, Bible studies, and all other gatherings for now. If you are part of a small group and choose to meet, please plan to meet somewhere other than at church.

We will find ways to support one another, including sharing devotions and updates electronically. Please stay in touch with friends and fellow Esperanzans by phone. Please feel free to call Pastor Carol at any time with concerns, prayer requests, and updates. (We’ll make sure members have her cell number.)

Please continue to check here for updates.

Sunday Schedule (Please note: no worship or classes this week)


On Sundays we gather for worship               and learning

At 8:30 we celebrate a traditional Lutheran service of liturgy and hymns.

At 10:30 we gather for a contemporary service featuring a worship band.

Junior High Sunday School meets at 9:45. Funday School for pre-school through grade 5 meets during the 10:30 service. Confirmation Class and Youth Group for middle and high school kids meet at 11:45.