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Witness Discipling Team

The Witness Discipling Team’s (WDT) primary purpose is “to lead and assist congregations and individuals in public affirmation of faith through word and deed.” The work in new and renewing congregations is a collaborative effort among the three expressions of our denomination: congregation, synod, and churchwide. Click here to read the full description!

The Team works closely with the Synod Director for Evangelical Mission and aligns with the Future Church criteria:

  • Prioritize the engagement of new, young and diverse people. 

  • Unite all expressions of the church (congregations, synods and the churchwide organization) into one church—together. 

  • Align decision-making, accountability and leadership where best suited. 

  • Operate in agile, flexible and speedy ways. 

  • Act based on data and measurable impact.

  • Eliminate silos and divisions.


The team supports and walks with the ministries of new and renewing congregations. Together they discern, envision, and embody what it means to be vital congregations. The WDT embraces the following core values in supporting vitality in congregations:

  • Relational

  • Inclusive

  • Collaborative

  • Innovative

  • Openness to Learning and Sharing

  • Leadership Development  

As of April 2022, here are the Sierra Pacific Synod's New Starts & Strategic Ministries:

  1. Gift of Grace Lutheran Fellowship - Fernley, NV

  2. Shepherd by the Sea Episcopal/Lutheran Mission - Gualala, CA

  3. Mountain Ranch Lutheran Mission - Mountain Ranch, CA

  4. Grace Lao Lutheran Church - Richmond, CA

  5. Christ Community Multicultural Ministry - San Jose, CA

  6. Good Shepherd South Asian Ministry - Fremont, CA

  7. Fuente de Gracia (Sanger Latinx Ministry) - Sanger, CA

  8. Afghan and Arab and Middle Eastern (AME) Ministry - Sacramento, CA

  9. New Revelation Community - Richmond, CA

Vital congregations are communities of Jesus that nurture and invite others to life changing relationships with God, one another, and the world. (Conference of Bishops March 2018)

WDT Congregational Vitality Ministries with the DEM are engaged in the following ministries:

  • Our Synod has 9 Mission Congregations (Synodically Authorized Worshipping Community – New Start and Strategic Ministries), see above

  • Synod Vitality: ACTS for Vitality is a Transformational Ministry invitation from and initiative of our Synod for existing congregations.

  • Asian Lay Evangelist Program (ALEP) is a Holy Innovation Grant Recipient that can only be done in collaboration with other partners. For ALEP, three synods collaborated with Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the ELCA Asian Ministry Desk. The program has started in March 2021 and will culminate in January 2022.

  • Anchor Churches. An Anchor Church is one congregation willing to partner with one, two or several congregations (which may include one or more new starts) or other ministries. They learn, collaborate and resource one another to move together into the future.


Other Collaborative Ministries

  • Lay Church Planter Training in partnership with the United Methodist Church. For a pilot cohort, the synod sends a team of 3-4 trainees from various congregations. This pilot group’s training culminates in July 2021. More cohort will soon be formed both for Spanish and English speakers.

  • Growing Young Initiative born out an extensive research where ELCA congregations, full communion partners, and other denominations participated. The initiative could be implemented in various ways such as a book study or a cohort of congregations and their leaders going through learning, sharing and implementing the “six essential strategies to help young people discover and love your church.” Even though is very much self-directed initiative, there is so much joy that it may bring to your ministry and community.

  • Synod Coach Network. Coaching is different form of support from a mentor, consultant and counselor. The Synod Coach Steering Committee has been formed to help communities and individuals to benefit from this support and give assistance to grow this ministry tool in our synod. Learn more in this Introduction to Coaching, Coaching Infographic and the Guide to Discern Coach Launch Participants.

Current Witness Discipling Team Members

WDT - Janet Katari.jpeg

Rev. Janet Katari

WDT Chair

Christ Church Lutheran,

San Francisco

Rev. Dr. Dawn Roginski

Director of Evangelical Mission (DEM), Synod Staff

Rev. Eduardo Trejo

Synod Council

Iglesia Luterana El Buen Pastor,



Linda Babcock

Synod Council

Lutheran Church of the Resurrection,

Granite Bay

Dave Birdsall

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church,


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