When no churches are available for 800 people…

tjndc5-5k7d0euaqrm2v93darb_layout.jpgBishop Robert Rimbo, just taking over as leader of the Metro New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, will be installed on Oct. 12 in a pretty usual place: a synagogue.

Here’s his explanation from this week’s synod “e-letter:”

Bishop’s installation at Central Synagogue?
I’m sure that some people are wondering about that location-in fact, I’ve heard from a couple of pastors about my decision. Let me share some basic facts about why the installation will be at this historic place of worship.

We were invited by the Senior Rabbi, Peter Rubinstein, a friend of mine. There is a long history of Central sharing its space with Lutherans: St. Peter’s, Manhattan, used it when their church was being built in the mid-’70s, and Central used St. Peter’s after their fire in the late ’90s. So it’s not the first time a Christian, even Lutheran, congregation has worshiped there. We sought other likely places, and none were available: St. John the Divine is still in disrepair, and St. Patrick’s will not allow us to celebrate the Eucharist. We need to accommodate 800 people, and there MUST be complete accessibility for all. Places like Riverside Church were booked already. And I think we must make efforts in this synod to broaden our partnerships with other faith groups as well as strengthen our own ecumenical relationships. So those, in short, are the reasons.

I hope you’ll plan to be with us on Sunday, 12 October, at 3 p.m.-with gathering music starting at 2:30 p.m.

Bishop Rimbo

Rimbo, by the way, has started the process of traveling around the vast synod — which stretches from NYC to Long Island and up the Hudson Valley — to meet people and get the pulse of what’s going on. He’s scheduled to visit all regions of the synod by May.

To think, when I interviewed Rimbo in June, he didn’t even have a car.