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TORRINGTON, CT (SZS) The Rt. Rev. Wilma S. Kucharek, Bishop of the Slovak Zion Synod, was presented the Servus Dei Award during the Synod’s 2019 100th Anniversary Enrichment Assembly. The Servus Dei (Servant of God) Award is given in recognition of notable individuals who demonstrate an exemplary fervor and commitment to the work of Christ’s church. Kucharek previously received the same honor in 1999 for raising up the ministry of the Synod through her work with the Synod’s International Relations Committee in Central and Eastern Europe.

The following citation was moved by the Slovak Zion Synod Council in recognition of Kucharek’s service and presented to the Synod Assembly for adoption:

“WHEREAS, the Rt. Rev. Wilma S. Kucharek has faithfully executed the office of Bishop of our great Synod since 2002; and

WHEREAS, she has seen our great Synod through the best of times and the worst of tribulations with a steady hand and a positive outlook, never compromising in the utmost pride she has in our synodical identity; and

WHEREAS, she is widely known to be the strength of this Synod, and has become a true inspiration for leaders across God’s beautiful church, both here in our Slovak Zion Synod, as well as in other ELCA synods and the greater Churchwide expression of this church, and in the leadership of churches abroad; and

WHEREAS, she skillfully weaves the story of scripture into every aspect of her personal life, witnessing to God’s compassion and steadfast care for creation with her every breath and every step; and

WHEREAS, she promotes the good work of the Synod to those who worship and participate in the congregations within, and represents us to all she meets, through her cheerfulness and delight on every occasion; and

WHEREAS, she is known by many in our Synod to preach and teach in every moment, even when a brief greeting to a congregation she visits at the beginning of their worship becomes a skillfully crafted impromptu sermon that reignites the child-like faith of every person witnessing her from the pew; and

WHEREAS, she is protective of and watchfully looks out for her flock, with both the crook of her crosier, as well as the stabby, pointy end of it all the way at the bottom, and doesn’t mind letting everyone know it; and

WHEREAS, she avidly and exuberantly strikes up meaningful relational conversation with every single layperson of God’s church, no matter how big their desk is, or how small their role in the church structure, fulfilling a personal commitment she has to meaningful relationship with each and every person, and appreciating them for the fine work of creation that the Almighty God has crafted them to be; and

WHEREAS, she is compassionate, and full of strength and wisdom for those rostered individuals in her Synod and in all of God’s church who have fallen on trying times, ministering to them with endless patience and love and living into her own role as “pastor to the pastors” [as well as “pastor to the Synod” membership], as she believes all bishops should be; and

WHEREAS, no moment of silence can be found in her presence where she hasn’t vocalized her admiration for the mysterious nature of God’s works, and the good humor that can always be found therein, for all those who care to look…; therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, that on this day, the 30th of August, in the year of our Lord 2019, the Slovak Zion Synod Assembly officially recognizes and honors the Rt. Rev. Wilma S. Kucharek with the Servus Dei Award, the highest honor our Assembly can give, and furthers its significance by conferring it on the occasion of the Synod’s 100th Anniversary; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Synod commends her with utmost gratitude for a lifetime of dedication to leading and nurturing our great Synod, and all of God’s church, whether it has been in peril or in celebration, and thanks her for her many years of service as well as for her ongoing commitment, without either of which, our great Synod would not shine nearly as bright.”

The citation was unanimously adopted by the assembly and met with standing applause.

In presenting the award, Vice President Jerry Owen stated, “I think we can all agree that she [Bishop Kucharek] is for many of us the spirit of our Synod.”

The award she was presented with reads: “Servus Dei Award; Presented to: The Rt. Rev. Wilma S. Kucharek; In thanksgiving to Almighty God for lifelong dedication to raising up the mission and ministry of this Synod, with integrity and grace unparalleled throughout our great history as a Synod.”

In her remarks to the assembly, Bishop Kucharek said, “I don’t know what to say…This is very touching and special. Thank you for showing your love and giving this honor, and thank you for walking with me…. I thank you for [your] partnership in the Gospel. God bless you all on this 100th anniversary.”