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News // Community Engagement

Rev. Eric C. Shafer Joins LIRS as Pastor in Residence

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LIRS Staff

July 15, 2022

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is thrilled to welcome The Rev. Eric C. Shafer as our new Pastor in Residence, effective August 1, 2022.

“Welcoming immigrants and refugees is at the heart of LIRS’s more than 80 years of ministry and is basic to the Christian faith,” said Shafer. “I feel privileged to serve in this new way.”

Shafer, who recently retired as Senior Pastor at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Santa Monica, California, will join LIRS in part-time, volunteer ministry. According to Kristin Witte, LIRS’ Director for Mobilization and Faith Relations, Shafer’s work will focus on “reinforcing LIRS’ Lutheran Identity and legacy by connecting the plight of contemporary refugees to historic Lutheran values.”

He will bring his expertise to LIRS through the creation of theological resources and reflection, including writing and developing faith-based educational materials, as well as through meeting with faith-based groups to represent LIRS and its work with immigrants and refugees.

“I am so excited to welcome Eric, who I’ve been pleased to get to know through my President’s Council, as Pastor in Residence,” said LIRS President and CEO Krish O’Mara Vignarajah. “He is truly called to this work, as evidenced by his leadership of Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, one of LIRS’s most significant supporters.”

Shafer comes to LIRS after a long career that included ministry in Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York and California, as well as extensive ecumenical and interfaith leadership.  He served as the Director for Communication at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Churchwide Office, as an Assistant to the Bishop in northeastern Pennsylvania, and as Senior Vice President of Odyssey Networks in New York, as well as congregations in Pennsylvania and California.  He has received numerous recognitions for his work in helping found the first shelter for homeless college students in the USA in Santa Monica and was named “Religion Communicator of the Year” in 2012.  He currently serves on the LIRS President’s Council.

“Eric’s long history of service and leadership in the ELCA is inspiring,” said LIRS Vice President for Development and Mobilization Andrew G. Steele. “I look forward to his continuation of the Lutheran legacy of welcome at LIRS.”

If you’d like to get in touch with Rev. Shafer, please email .

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