Boards and Committees


Affordable Housing

The Synod Plan

In every city and town in our Southwestern Washington Synod, there is an extreme shortage of affordable housing for those seeking to buy or rent housing.  The Affordable Housing Work Team assists Synod congregations who wish to create more affordable housing in their area.  This includes helping congregation build affordable housing on available land that the church owns and also working with local city and county officials to provide additional affordable housing.

This work team is made up of volunteers from all over our Synod, including pastors, deacons, and lay members.  If you would like to be a part of this work team or would like more information, contact Bishop Rick Jaech at or 253-535-8300.

Youth at a river
Youth Committee

ALYVE Board and Youth Committee

The ALYVE Board, sponsored by the Southwestern Washington Synod Youth Committee, stands for “Associated Lutheran Youth in Various Endeavors”.  This is a group of High School students representing all congregations of this Synod who gather monthly to bring the junior and senior high students closer to God and each other.  They plan the annual spring Synod Youth Gathering.

ALYVE Board Advisors are: Shannon Fleishfresser and Kirsten Larsen

The Youth Committee's mission is to Empower, Encourage and Equip those who serve in congregational Faith Formation with the 1st Third of Life. 

Ways in which we do this is by supporting and providing networking opportunities throughout the Synod and the ELCA--serving on ELCA network boards; hosting area lunches, an annual retreat, offering book discussion groups and providing scholarship funds for conferences and events which not only provide educational opportunities but also a time for renewal and spiritual growth. This committee also offers support for the Synod LYO Advisors to the ALYVE Board and serves as their oversight committee. 

Youth Committee Members:  Paul Davis, Shannon Fleischfresser, Kirsten Larsen, Ingelaurie Lisher, Jessica Potts and Justin Snider

Please contact Ingelaurie Lisher at for ways you can get involved in or support those who serve with the 1st Third of LIfe in our Synod.

Together to end racism

Anti-Racism Work Team

The Anti-Racism Work Team is committed to confronting and ending racism in all of its manifestations, including the embedded racism in our congregations, our personal lives, and throughout society.

The team provides educational resources to congregations that will help them explore the often-unconscious ways in which white people and white culture hold favored status and privilege over indigenous and people of color.  The team also organizes public events, such as workshops and advocacy.  Above all, the team attempts to foster the development of authentic, personal relationships among people of all colors, which becomes the most effective means to ending racism. This work team is made up of volunteers from all over our Synod, including pastors, deacons, and lay members.

If you would like to be a part of this work team or would like more information, contact Bishop Rick Jaech at or 253-535-8300.


Candidacy Committee

The Candidacy Committee in the Southwestern Washington Synod meets four times per year (seasonally) to interview potential and continuing candidates, pray with them and discuss what is next in the process of becoming a rostered leader in the ELCA.   Between meetings, committee members relate to individual candidates, keeping an open line of communication and offering any guidance that is needed for the candidacy process.

Candidacy Committee Chair:  Pastor Chuck Slocum,

If you are interested in candidacy in the ELCA, please contact Pastor Rebecca Shjerven, Bishop’s Associate,

Fiscal board meeting

Fiscal Board

The Fiscal Board oversees the budget process for the Synod, preparing budgets for approval by the Synod Council and Synod Assembly.  The Fiscal Board also monitors income and expenses, supporting the ongoing work of the Synod Treasurer.  Staff liaison to the Fiscal Board is Pastor Rebecca Shjerven, Bishop's Associate.

Hunger Committee

Hunger Committee

Members of the Southwestern Washington Synod Hunger Committee are individuals from congregations throughout the synod committed to ending hunger both here and around the world. We partner with congregations and organizations in our area to make a collective impact on hunger. 

We are committed to providing education surrounding the issues of hunger and poverty to congregations and organizations throughout our synod; we are also uniquely positioned to help congregations partner with ELCA World Hunger to reach communities in need.

Committee Members:  Diane Armbrust (Co-Chair), Allison Ramsey (Co-Chair), Beth Ann Johnson, MaryAnn Nelson, Rev. Paul Benz

Visit the ELCA World Hunger link to learn more:

Mission Endowment Board

Mission Endowment Fund Board

The purpose of Mission Endowment Funds is to offer financial support to new and existing mission starts and mission projects, as well as financial support for emerging leaders.

The Mission Endowment Fund Board is responsible for promoting growth of the funds, and for deciding how much money is available for financial grants each year.  The Board makes these decisions in keeping with established policies. Money is made available to the Outreach Board and the Candidacy committee for distribution.

For more information about the Mission Endowment Fund Board, contact Pastor Rebecca Shjerven, Bishop’s Associate,


Nambia Task Force

You are invited to take part in a longstanding ELCA companion relationship with the three Lutheran church bodies in Namibia. We visit there. Namibian bishops, pastors and lay people visit here. We pray, learn and grow together. We assist with efforts to improve life in Namibia in this poor desert country, in education and health care. We enjoy a deep and rich friendship with our Namibian sisters and brothers in Christ, and have for many years.

Our three partners are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN); the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN); and the German Lutheran Church. Combined, they represent 1.2 million believers in 200 congregations.

We want you to be a part of it. Join us on our next trip. Take part in the Namibia Task Force work. We meet at the synod office. Add yourself or your congregation as among the givers of small amounts of funds annually that help so much.

Contact Rachel Pritchett, chair of the Namibia Task Force, at or 206-498-0920.

Totem pole

Native American Work Team

Our Southwestern Washington Synod is located west of the Cascade Mountains, extending from Vancouver in the south to Federal Way, Auburn, and Enumclaw in the north. It also includes all of the land west of the Salish Sea (Puget Sound) on the Olympic Peninsula up to Canada.

We acknowledge that this land and water is the traditional territory of 16 federally recognized Native American tribes: the Chehalis, Cowlitz, Hoh, Jamestown S’Klallam, Lower Elwha Klallam, Makah, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Puyallup, Quileute, Quinault, Shoalwater Bay, Skokomish, Squaxin Island, and Suquamish, as well as additional tribes not recognized by the federal government, including the Chinook.  Our Synod also includes many indigenous individuals and families who live in cities and town outside of tribal lands.

Our Native American Work Team, made up of indigenous and non-indigenous rostered leaders and lay people from Synod congregations, seeks to foster authentic and just relationships among all people in our Synod.  We do this by providing educational information, liturgy resources, and direct people-to-people encounter.  For example, once a year we organize a Sacred Site visit in which congregation members visit a sacred site on tribal land and learn from tribal leaders.  We also promote a Native American Sunday in our Synod congregations and provide resources to congregations for that celebration.

If you would like to be a part of this work team or would like more information, contact Rev. Linda Smith at


Outreach Board

Enflamed by the Spirit of God, the mission of the Southwestern Washington Synod Outreach Board is to enable new mission starts, empower the renewal of congregations, and equip the people of God for ministry.

The Outreach Board is currently serving 4 functions:

  1. Accompany of our Synod’s new mission starts, including congregations under development and synodically authorized worshiping communities.
  2. Empower congregations in renewal and redevelopment ministry, through which congregations discern new ministry directions by listening to God, one another and their neighbors.
  3. Direct contact with congregations through ministry reviews and consultations.
  4. Strategic distribution of grant money to ministries of new starts, renewing congregations and evangelical outreach ministries.

If you (like most of your sister congregations in the synod!) believe your congregation would benefit from a renewal process or could boost renewal life with the possibility of strategic grant dollars, we are here to partner with you.

The Outreach Board is comprised of members who are committed to God’s mission through congregations. We would love the opportunity to send a small team in to meet with your pastor and key community and lay leaders. I like to say that if a church isn’t in renewal then it is in decline, or at best stagnating. And yet the vital questions of “What is God up to here?” and “How is God calling us to change?” continue to have power to renew Christ’s church for purpose and mission.

Imagine Retreat #6 Handout, Mission Table Leadership

Inclusive pride flag

Reconciling in Christ Work Team

The Reconciling in Christ Work Team seeks builds a synod culture that celebrates the presence and gifts of LGBTQIA2+ people in all aspects of life and mission.

We do this with humility and hope.  We are mindful of the harm and damage the Church is causing in matters of sexuality and gender. Yet we are actively engaged and hopeful for the future, as the Spirit of God relentlessly calls us all into the fullness of the Body of Christ.

Synod Women's Committee

Synodical Women's Organization

The Synod's Women's Organization is a member of the national WELCA organization.  The board members are:  They hold an annual business meeting and a retreat.  Links for those will be posted when they are back to meeting in person. They are currently planning a fall conference October 9th at Silverdale Lutheran Church.