Notes by Carla Klawitter
Friday, June 9
Kicking off the day bright and early with registration. Voting members who have not attended a prior assembly take time for orientation.
Worship in Christ Chapel is always a good way to gather with our brothers and sisters in Christ to begin our work. After the service of Holy Communion, the agenda was adopted and Rev. Siri Erickson of Gustavus Adolphus College welcomed us to campus.
And of course, we take time to eat, converse, reunite.
The afternoon schedule is full. We start with prayer led by Deacon Cheryl Whitchurch of Zion, Litchfield
Bishop Jon Anderson gave introductions of platform personnel and those who are helping behind the scenes, including the Gustavus staff.
Assembly planning report was given by committee chair, Rev. Maggie Cumings, First, St. James. She also recognized others serving on the committee.
Bp. Jon then introduced others of the synod staff.
V.P. Gwen Arneson introduced Dana White of Qwizdom, who gave a quick tutorial for use of the voting keypads. Technology is amazing! To help us, Martin Luther (aka Rev. Larry Strenge) traveled via time capsule to ask questions so the assembly could practice using the keypads. “What Do You Know? – The Lutheran Quiz Show”.
What things did Katie Luther do to support the Luther family?
a. Raised food in a garden
b. Brewed beer
c. Had a boarding house
d. All of the above
Correct answer = D
Bp. Jon has met with people to talk about the Funding Initiative over:
d. None of the above
e. A and B
Correct answer = E
Linda Estling, Immanuel, Watson, helped raise money for mission by:
a. Riding a camel
b. Ice skating around the hockey rink 1000 times in 8 hours
c. Kissing a goat
d. Shaving her head
Correct answer = C
Danke schoen, Martin!
Bp. Jon gave his first report, an orientation to our synod. Our theme is Embrace God’s Mission + Equip God’s People. One part of that is: Deepen Congregational Vitality. We are in an urgent situation regarding our churches and seminaries. We have to engage the present mission field to move into the future. The urgency is to proclaim the Good News of Jesus, to make disciples, to invite people into Jesus and the community that bears his name, to witness in and outside of the Christian community. Check out the whole report on the synod’s blog.
Always good to remember Jesus’ words: “I will be with you always.”
Bp. Jon made a couple recommendations: Free app for your phone – from Augsburg’s Reformation 500 – Luther’s Small Catechism. Books you might like to read: “Living into Community – Cultivating Practices that Sustain Us” by Christine D. Pohl; “Canoeing the Mountains” by Tod Bolsinger. “What got us here will not get us there.”
Swede Home, Clarkfield, closed this year. The Doxology was sung to remember their people and ministry.
One more point made by Bp. Jon: What about all the cemeteries? It’s time to have those conversations.
Pr. Larry Strenge up next – our Director for Evangelical Mission since 2009. Today he comes to us as the director of the Funding Initiative.
The assembly joined in singing the theme song, “Walking Together”, written by Rev. Dave Nelson of Annandale, with the help of the Praise Band – Rev. Becca, Rev. Lowell, and Lily Krogstad, Tony, Lisa, and Annabelle Erickson. Rev. Bill Miller was also acknowledged for writing the piano accompaniment. This song may be downloaded from the synod’s web site (www.swmnelca.org).
Pr. Larry continued to explain our work to equip God’s people – to build healthy leaders, to build healthy congregations, to build the body of Christ – to equip the saints for the work of ministry.
All youth members were invited to meet with Deacon Sarah Hausken, synod’s youth ministry coordinator, during the Get Up and Stretch break.
Rev. Andy Hermodson-Olsen, Lilly project director, explained a bit about the $500,000 grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. He lifted up some points for us:
- We should be aware that the cost of seminary has increased dramatically over time. The church in the past thought we shared this together. Now, we need to ask if the church should again be sharing in supporting students going through seminary.
- We hope the Lilly project will bring change to the lives of people in our synod, the lives of our congregations.
A video featuring Rev. Leslie Knutson, Granite Falls, was shown. She talked about living with debt, the help she received from the recent debt reduction grant, and the fact that she doesn’t need to work a second job anymore. View this video on the synod’s web site.
One more word Pr. Andy lifted up: Hope. You’re not alone. You have options. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, your life can change if you have hope.
Rev. Bryant and Lindy Kaden of Gloria Dei, Redwood Falls, came out of seminary with much credit card debt. They shared their story of working with debt counseling through Lutheran Social Service. They were able to pay off their debt in less than 5 years instead of 20 years!
Finally, we need the right tools, according to Pr. Andy. Financial education for financial literacy, educational events, financial counseling, Ministerial Excellence Fund, grants for pastors. See more information in the Lilly newsletter. Tomorrow there’s an opportunity at Let’s Do Lunch to experience what it might be like to receive financial counseling.
Pr. Larry shared a story about Planned Giving Coordinator Amy Bigot, who delivered two $10,000 checks to the synod office in support of the Funding Initiative. She was expecting to receive one check from a farmer, but when she arrived, the farmer’s brother arrived just ahead of her. He also wrote a check for her to take to the synod office. You can be a part of it, too. Food packing events, energizing congregations, helping 5 young people travel to South Africa. Experience the joy of giving!
One more video was shown featuring Rev. Don McKee, Our Savior’s, Montevideo, who invited the assembly to get involved in the Funding Initiative.
Get Up and Stretch – music by Lisa and Annabelle Erickson.
Nominating Committee report was given by Carla Hamre, Our Savior’s, Sacred Heart. There were no nominations from the floor, so Bp. Jon declared nominations closed.
Credentials Report #1 was given by Dorothy Stenberg, Zion, Litchfield. As of 2:00 this afternoon, of possible 245 rostered voting members, 170 registered, 137 present, representing 56%. Of a possible 631 lay voting members, 319 have registered, 291 are present, representing 46%.
Luther Seminary President Robin Steinke shared the mission of Luther Seminary. She introduced Pr. Joe Natwick, who serves in rural Western North Dakota, via video about his internship and his training at Luther Seminary. Then she introduced Josh Kestner, in person, who has just been called to a congregation in Davenport, Iowa. He, too, told of his formation at Luther Seminary and thanked us for supporting the seminary and the graduates.
The seminary is not only for those seeking rostered ministry, but also offers lay theological classes and activities. Check it out at www.luthersem.edu.
Pr. Larry introduced the next video: Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM). This program invites young adults to become the hands and feet of Jesus in the world and into a journey of self-reflection. Four young women from SW MN Synod will be participants in the coming year: Rosina Halverson-Studer, Hannah Sackett, Chelsey Johnson, and Megan McClure.
Bible study was presented by Rev. Dr. Harvey Nelson, retired, and Pr. Jon Nelson, Tripolis, Kandiyohi. This duo is a father-son team. The study was based on Romans. Remember the promise: “I am with you always.” Paul wanted to be popular, but he had a cause. Romans 1:16 – I’m not ashamed of the gospel. (Sounds like a Norwegian – can’t quite say he’s proud of the gospel.) The lesson continued to compare some of our daily concerns with the same types of concerns Paul expressed in Romans. Closed with prayer.
Martin Luther has returned. More practice with the keypads and “The Quiz Show for Lutherans”.
Martin Luther’s radical idea was we are justified by…
a. Walking the dog
b. Grace through faith
c. Going to church weekly
d. Working as an usher
Correct answer: B
To whom did Martin Luther originally send the 95 Theses?
a. Albert of Brandenburg
b. The Queen of Sheba
c. Pope Leo XXV
d. Peter, his barber
Correct answer: A
Resolutions Committee report given by Greg Isaackson, Christ, Cottonwood. One resolution was received – 17.01 Regarding Changes to the SW MN Synod Constitution and Bylaws. The entire resolution will be read, including the whereas clauses. More later.
Julie Rath led the assembly in the election for synod positions. Rev. Kirk Meseck made motion to elect all unopposed nominees to their positions. Vote carried. Elections continued. Results will be verified and then announced later.
Resolution 17.01 was read by Greg Isaackson. This would integrate the non-required parts of the model constitution for synods following action at the 2016 Churchwide Assemly. A question of clarification was answered. Rev. Anthony Christoffels made a motion to adopt all clauses en bloc. Several more questions were answered. Voting yes to adopt constitutional changes or no to oppose. Meantime, Bp. Jon encouraged the assembly to update their congregations’ constitutions. Motion carried to adopt changes as presented.
Game break with Rev. Erik Karlson, Pr. Larry, Rev. Linda Pedersen, and Rev. Jenni Thul of the Prairie Conference.
Get Up and Stretch – music by Lisa and Annabelle Erickson.
In the absence of Treasurer Chuck Engebretson because of an accident, the treasurer’s report was presented by Rev. Ann Zastrow, Big Grove Crow River Grace, Belgrade, of the Mission and Management Committee and Carla Klawitter, financial administrator in the synod office. The proposed budget for fiscal year ending 2019 was also presented.
Presentation of 2018 Compensation Guidelines presented by Rev. Jon Dahl, Bethel, Willmar.
Terri Endres, Portico Benefit Services, reported on their work. More information available at the display table.
Election results were announced.
Ferman Woodberry, Cottonwood – Synod Council – at-large, lay male
Rev. Julius Miller, Our Redeemer’s, Hancock – Synod Council – at-large, clergy male
Joely Palmer, Vinje, Willmar – Synod Council – at large, youth
Julie Rath, Gloria Dei, Redwood Falls – Consultation Committee – lay female
Thomas Grandy, Glenwood, Glenwood – Consultation Committee – lay male
Eric Randleman, Glenwood, Glenwood – Discipline Committee – lay male
Rev. Erik Rundquist, Svea, Svea – Discipline Committee – clergy male
Rev. Jeffrey Fitzkappes, Trinity, Montevideo – Lutheran Advocacy-Minnesota
David Nelson, First, Sauk Centre – Synod Council – Crow River Conference – lay male
Rev. David Tonn, First English, Ortonville – Synod Council – Lac qui Parle Conference – clergy male
Rev. Lyle Snyder, St. Stephen, Marshall – Synod Council – Prairie Conference – clergy male
Witness Mbatha, Health and Wellness Coordinator, and N.S. Langa, chair of the Health and Wellness Committee, visitors from our Companion Synod – the Southeastern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Africa – brought greetings and told of their work, efforts, and progress to help people with HIV/AIDS. Bp. Jon presented each of them with the gift of a synod vest.
An Enhancing Local and Global Mission video featuring Marta Johnson was shown. This was about a recent trip to South Africa and the Funding Initiative’s grants which helped five young people travel along with the group.
Game break – Martin Luther throws the challenge flag – with Pr. Erik Karlson, Pr. Larry, Pr. Linda, and Rev. Marlaine Doidge of the Crow River Conference. Pr. Marlaine shared the story of Paul Grimm’s experience on the trip to South Africa, where he witnessed people caring for people in mourning following the death of their son.
Truly, we are walking together with Christ at the lead.
Sarah Hausken and three Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO) members introduced themselves and shared a video about the LYO events and activities in our synod.
Another video regarding Deepening Congregation Vitality and featuring Rev. Sarah Tadé, American, Windom, was shown. This was the story of the congregation’s work to alleviate hunger insecurities in their community. What would your hunch be about what your congregation could do to grow deeper in vitality?
Pr. Kathryn gave announcements, invited everyone to the evening banquet, thanked the Praise Band, and introduced Stacy Pethke, intern at Trinity, Sleepy Eye. Stacy led us in closing prayer.
The Praise Band provided music as the assembly recessed and moved to dinner.
The banquet and special recognitions were emceed by Rev. Maggie Berndt-Dryer of Bethlehem, Hills. Those new to the synod, recent seminary graduates, and interns serving in the synod were recognized. Rostered ministers observing 10th, 25th, 50th, and 60th anniversaries of ordination were honored. Entertainment was audience participation in The Family Feud. The fast money round was played by Bp. Jon and V.P. Gwen. Winners!
The closing hymn was led by guitarists, Rev. Becca Krogstad and Rev. Lowell Krogstad. Those gathered closed with prayer and were sent out to enjoy the evening. We’ll see you in the morning.