Notes by Carla Klawitter
Saturday, June 10
Kicking off another day bright and early with breakfast, Prayer Around the Cross, more registrations, and displays. Sliding into plenary with music by the Praise Band. Rev. Larry Strenge invited the assembly to stand and join in singing “We’re Walking Together” with the Praise Band.
Opening prayer was led by intern Jonathan Rundquist. All interns and their congregations were recognized by the assembly.
Bible study based on Romans 3 with Revs. Harvey and Jon Nelson. It’s not what we do, but what is done to us. There’s good in the bad times, and there’s bad in the good times. What’s your favorite good vs. evil story? How have you experienced grace? Listen to the buzz of conversations. Grace shapes identity. God does it! Grace Wars (Romans 3:21-24) featuring Jesus Water Walker, who overcame Dark Sin. That’s Paul’s cause. God does it. We don’t do it, we get it!
And here he is…Martin Luther…for more “What Do You Know?”
What was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s proper name prior to having it changed by his father when he was five?
Correct answer: A
Who was not a contemporary of Luther?
a. Pope Leo X
b. Philip Melanchthon
c. Frederick the Wise
d. George Washington
Correct answer: D
What is the largest event of its type in the ELCA held in SWMN?
a. Junior High Youth Gathering
b. Synod Assembly
c. Equipping Congregations Day
d. Shetek G.O.L.F.
Correct answer: A (with more than 1200 participants)
Deacon Lila Klee was recognized as another deacon serving in our synod.
Victoria Flood, director of mission support, shared the ELCA report. We’re part of something bigger than our own congregations, our own synod. We are walking together with Christ at the lead! We strengthen each other to do God’s work, to share God’s abundant love with the whole world. A short video was shared with a message from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.
Rev. John Gabrielson, Atonement, St. Cloud, presented today’s credentials report. As of 10 a.m., 156 rostered voting members were present, 64% of the possible 245; 295 lay voting members are here, 47% of the possible 631; 451 total voting members present, 51% of the possible 876.
Bp. Jon opened today’s report by announcing great news that a baby girl has been born to Rev. Justin and Rev. Seyward Ask. Applause! Then he proceeded with his message about proclaiming the Good News. As we do this work, we need to remember Jesus’ promise, “I will be with you always.” By God’s grace, together we have what we need.
Highlights of Bp. Jon’s report:
- Campus Ministries, Lutheran Laotian Community, House of Grace/Grace Place. Bp. Jon encouraged congregations to make a connection with a developing church.
- Use the observance of Reformation as a lever toward the future. It’s not all about being German or Norwegian. We need to be careful in how we talk about the Reformation, to express that we are part of the Reformation now.
- Our relationship with Roman Catholics – from Conflict to Communion.
- Conference restructuring in SW MN Synod.
- ELCA futures directions – the church we want to become.
- Our culture as a synod.
- Local and global mission regarding spiritual and physical hunger.
- Lilly Project, Funding Initiative.
- Building bridges between rural and city cultures.
The ELCA World Hunger report was given by Amy Leither, Peace, Cold Spring, synod hunger team coordinator. World hunger offering received this morning totaled $4,509.34.
Get Up and Stretch. Lively music by the Praise Band.
V.P. Gwen Arneson, Christ, Cottonwood, gave her report to the assembly, reflecting on time with her grandson – walking on tiptoe – and the future of imagination. Forget the past, remember the future. Imagine something in the future as if it has already happened. Remember God’s future for us and for those who come after us.
Game break. The Walking Together Challenge red flag thrown by Martin Luther. Rev. Grant Fischer, Salem, Jackson, Shetek Conference, shared the congregation’s work to assess their ministry beyond their walls. Yes! We’re walking together with Christ at the lead.
Bp. Jon thanked V.P. Gwen for her report. The budget for fiscal year ending January 31, 2019, and compensation guidelines for 2018 and were adopted as proposed. Bp. Jon expressed his gratefulness to all the congregations for their generosity. Together we have what we need. He also encouraged us to have open, honest conversations about money in our congregations and with our pastors.
Funding Initiative video – Develop Servant Leaders– featuring Gary Meyer, Immanuel, Clara City. Be sure to go to the synod’s web site to view videos, for bulletin inserts, for the theme song “Walking Together”, giving opportunities, and more. (https://swmnelca.org/funding-initiative/)
Pr. Linda shared announcements before a break for lunch and a variety of Let’s Do Lunch learning opportunities.
Conference Ministers – Rev. Art Wiese, Rev. Kirk Meseck, Rev. Joyce Graue, Rev. Ted Kunze, and Deacon Signe Gray – were recognized. Then Signe led us in prayer and table grace.
Let’s do lunch! Music by the Praise Band to send us out.
Sliding back into plenary with fun music again by the Praise Band. Great to hear young voices mixed in here! Fun to sing along! And fun to see some interpretive dance by Annabelle!
V.P. Gwen Arneson called us back to order. Deacon Erin Kuehl, First, St. James, opened the session with prayer. Bp. Jon gave the third portion of his report to the assembly – Develop Servant Leaders. First of all, ponder about those you know who might be encouraged to enter ordained ministry. We’re invited to write down the name and share it with Bp. Jon.
What’s a synod good for? We try to boil it down to one word – EQUIP. We need to equip all the baptized. More orientation about the synod in this time of change. It’s absolutely essential that we love and listen to the young people around us.
Where is God calling you? What is your calling? All of us are on a daily mission trip – everyday reformers. Who is called to be a rostered minister? Think again. What kinds of leaders do we need? Check Bp. Jon’s blog for that list. He added that it’s crucial to deepen intracultural competency and relationships when developing servant leaders. Diversity takes a lot of different forms. Do black or brown lives matter more in South Africa than in Southwestern Minnesota? How do we reach out to all people?
How do we engage the renunciation of the doctrine of discovery? (If we discover the land, it’s ours.) Podcast on MPR, “Little War on the Prairie”. Check it out. The ELCA is also working on a statement on Women and Justice – Faith, Sexism, Justice.
Bp. Jon endorsed continuing education for pastors. He’s willing to go to their congregations to encourage them to support their pastors in this effort.
Game Break – Pr. Larry, Pr. Erik Karlson, Pr. Linda – and Martin Luther throwing the red flag on the mission field of the Lakeland Conference and Pr. Todd Nelsen. Pr. Todd talked about the Energizing and Mobilizing events offered by the synod. Are we actually walking together with Christ at the lead? Yes! And now, back to live action.
V.P. Gwen announced Bev of Danebod, Tyler, has won the LMM faith chest.
Jennifer Luong presented the LSS Servant of Christ Award. Twenty congregations are being honored for their work in southwestern Minnesota: Zion, Adrian; Our Savior’s, Bird Island; Grace, Brownton; All Saints, Darwin; Our Savior’s, Fairfax; St. Paul’s, Gaylord; Christ, Glencoe; Trinity, Grove City; First, Hector; St. Paul’s, Hector; Heron Lake Ev., Heron Lake; Grace, Luverne; First, Marshall; Cross of Calvary, Olivia; Gloria Dei, Redwood Falls; Christ, Slayton; Faith, Spicer; Tracy, Tracy; Grace, Westbrook; and Trinity, Westbrook.
Pr. Larry introduced the last video made for the assembly (available on the synod’s web site), “Better Together” featuring Greg Vandal, Living Waters, Sauk Rapids. The Funding Initiative helped to support this event.
One more Bible study based on Romans 4 with Pr. Jon and Pr. Harvey. We’ve learned that we can’t do it. God does it. Then, what do we do? We trust God’s goodness, we believe God. When you have good news to share, it’s written large on your face, in your life, in your heart. Have you ever had good news that you just had to share? More holy buzz in the room. We’re proud – we’re not ashamed. Are we that excited to share the Good News? We can share the Good News because it is with us every day, every place, every step of the way.
Pr. Larry introduced the Mission Investment Fund video. He then announced the drawing results for the Funding Initiative: Deepen Congregational Vitality – St. Matthew’s, Wabasso; Local and Global Mission – $1,000 – Kerkhoven, Kerkhoven (no one here?), Borgund, Madison (backup in case Kerkhoven was already at worship); Develop Servant Leaders – Grace, Belgrade.
Bp. Jon invited us to talk about our hunches about something sweet that we’ve learned here and want to take home with us. More holy buzz. He then shared his reflections on the assembly.
Rev. Dan Bowman, Hawk Creek, Sacred Heart, thanked many for their prayers and assistance after their fire. He announced that they will officially break ground for their new building tomorrow (Sunday, June 12). We are walking together – with Christ at the lead.
Rev. Art Wiese, Trinity, Benson, gave parting announcements, including that the 2018 synod assembly will be June 8-9 in Redwood Falls. Recessed to move to Christ Chapel for closing worship with Holy Communion and the closing of the assembly…”You will be my witnesses…I will be with you always, to the end of time.”