Do not be afraid. It is I. Come.
Southwestern Minnesota Synod Assembly 2018
Notes by Carla Klawitter
Saturday, June 9, 2018
About 30 began the day be attending a Taize worship service. Rev. Erik Rundquist presided. The display area was open. Glocal Musican Educators provided the music for sliding into plenary. Business session reconvened with prayer.
ELCA Report was presented by Rev. Daniel Rift, Director for the World Hunger and Disaster Appeal of the ELCA. He reminded us that now is a good time to be on the boat together (500th anniversary of Martin Luther). Video of Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton was shown. Grace is the free gift of God. It’s not up to us. Grace is who God is. We are free … free for love and service to our neighbors. This grace is too big to be contained.
Churchwide Mission and Ministry Together in 2017:
$44.1million – Mission Support
$27.5 million – Restricted/Temporarily Restricted
$21.3 million – ELCA World Hunger
$22.9 million – Disaster Response
Strategic Directions 2025:
Church equipping people
Inviting and welcoming church
Well-governed, connected, and sustainable church
New work of the ELCA in 2017 that Rev. Rift found most exciting: the work in South Sudan – relief and development, even without a Lutheran congregation within South Sudan. Two ELCA missionaries there now – two who fled, became ELCA pastors, and now have returned to their homeland to share the Good News with their people. Currently building a Lutheran Center there.
The sea becoming rough – the disciples alone on the boat – the fear – the crying out – South Sudan reflects this now. Get off the boat. Put out the hand. Follow where the Spirit continues to lead us in this world.
The word of the year – KOINONIA (national spelling bee winner).
Nearly 1000 from SW MN heading to the National Youth Gathering! Theme: This Changes Everything.
ELCA World Hunger’s Global Farm Challenge.
Work of ELCA World Hunger all comes to an end if there is no support.
Synod Hunger Coordinator Amy Leither, Peace, Cold Spring, and Hunger Team Member Rev. Jon Nelson, Ebenezer & Tripolis, Kandiyohi, informed us of the ELCA World Hunger Leadership Gathering, Jan. 2018: “For Such a Time as This”. If you want more information about the Farm Bill, go to the ELCA’s website.
Among the Domestic Hunger Grant recipients was Feeding Our Learning Youth (FLY) Weekend Backpack Program, sponsored by Kviteseid, Milan; Minnesota Valley, Madison; Zion, Appleton; and St. John’s, Appleton. Applications for next year’s grants will be accepted June 12-August 13, 2018. Webinars are available regarding the application process.
This year’s Bread Basket Award for the congregation who gave most to ELCA World Hunger based on average worship attendance goes to Borgund, Madison, with $234.35 given per average attendee.
God’s Good Creation – VBS curriculum – FREE on ELCA World Hunger website.
World Hunger offering received – $5,276.35.
Synod Youth Ministry Coordinator Sarah Hausken and two LYO members shared their report of events during the past year.
Bible study with Chaplain Jeff Zust continued, focusing again on the theme verses of the assembly.
Wastahili wewe Bwana! Translation – You Are Worthy, O Lord! A time of singing and moving for the assembly and Glocal Musician Educators.
Credentials Report #2 was announced by Rev. John Gabrielson. As of 9:00 a.m., 211 rostered eligible, 169 registered, 150 present, 71% of all rostered voting members; 575 lay, 337 registered, 294 present, 51% of all lay voting members who could attend; totals 786 possible, 506 registered, 444 present, representing 56% of all eligible voting members.
Rev. Mark Astrup, Peace, Cold Spring, led the voting for two positions for Churchwide Assembly Voting Member. Prayer was led by V.P. Gwen. Results to be announced later.
V.P. Gwen led a prayer for Bishop Jon and Robyn as he begins a short sabbatical on Monday.
Bishop Jon’s report #2 – We continue to live in the ongoing reformation in our world. We are all in the boat together. For Pete’s sake, stay in the boat! We may need to get out of the boat, but it’s important to get back into the boat – back into your congregations.
God has a mission for the whole world. God’s Church is part of God’s mission. Missio – to be sent…promise. How do you think about mission? Is it like a pearl trader – selling pearls to people who have never had pearls? Or is it like a treasure hunter – looking for signs of God’s presence and work – revelation – recognizing that God is already there?
- Mutuality – all are witnesses, no matter their job or calling
- Inclusivity – making sure everyone who comes to the party has a great time
- Vulnerability – authentically honest with people
- Empowerment – Are we trying to help so much that we forget we’re trying to help them use their own muscles?
- Sustainability – Is the project that you want to do something that will work for the long haul?
- We need people who love people the way cat people love cats!
- Congregations need to live like they’re dying – quit worrying about survival – live with gusto.
- Local and global mission – local includes synod and church body.
- Briefly talked about his sabbatical.
- Invited applause for Rev. Linda Pedersen, who is retiring later this year.
V.P. Gwen’s report: “I have done what is mine. May Christ teach you what is yours.” – St Francis of Assisi. What is it that draws you deeply into any particular book? How might we apply this image to boldly step without fear in order to follow Jesus to where he is leading?
Election #2 results: CWA Voting Member – Patricia Branstad, Bergen Nelson; 1st alternates – Dorothy Stenberg, Cole Woltjer.
Funding Initiative information was shared by Lead Team members Marv Isder, Faith, Avoca, and Sherri Broderius, St. Paul’s, Hector. Marv opened with, “You can’t email a peanut buster parfait.” (Physics of the Future), but we have news of 3-D printed corneas for transplant. What can we do? When can we do it? How can we get it done? Who will help do it? Children ages 0-2 now have no purchasing power, but in 20 years or less they could be running our lives; in 25 years, they will be running our lives and our world. Consider all that can be done.
Sherri said, “Consider the fact that God loved us first so that we can love others.” How do we see that in our congregations? How do we see ourselves loving others? Reflecting on Marv’s reference to having faith as a mustard seed and being able to move mountains, Sherri shared the story of (Jill’s) Coat Closet at St. Paul’s, Hector, (mustard seed) and now Rock of Life meets at St. Paul’s on Sunday afternoons and Thursday evenings (moving mountains).
Free food pantry winner – Cross of Calvary, Olivia.
Having received no questions, Treasurer Chuck Engebretson asked for approval of the budget for fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2020, as submitted yesterday. Second received from the floor. Voted to adopt budget as proposed.
Rev. Jon Dahl moved that we approve the 2019 Compensation Guidelines as proposed yesterday. Second from the floor. Voted to adopted guidelines as proposed.
Rev. Larry Strenge gave announcements, including the next Better Together food packing event will be Tuesday, July 10, at Montevideo
Intern Jane Crawford led us in prayer.
In recess until 1:00 for lunch break.
Sliding into plenary, singing by the assembly was led by Glocal Musician Educators.
Bp. Jon called us back into session. Prayer was led by Rev. Tim Wittwer, Gustavus Adolphus, Foley.
Bible study #3 with Chaplain Jeff Zust. The Matthew lesson was read again. An artist’s rendering of the story was shown. Chaplain Zust pointed out that they’re clinging for dear life to that boat. They’re all looking where they’re going. They’re reaching out.
Peter and Jesus rejoined the boat. The boat rejoined the land in a new place. After deployment, Chaplain Zust and his wife needed to decide where they were going to reunite? Both have moved on. They reunite in a new place, a new time, where they’ve never been before.
Chaplain Zust works with morally injured veterans. When people say, “Thank you for your service,” they think, “You wouldn’t be thanking me if you knew what I just did.” He recommended reading: “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World” by the 14th Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.
Jesus rejoins the community with Peter. Here’s the point of calling. The story ends. They are back with the community. They have arrived at the new place where they are going.
Jodi Harpstead reported on the work being done by Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. She then presented the LSS Servant of Christ Award to Calvary, Willmar.
Long-Range Planning discussions. How to help congregations do planning to move forward. Bruce Myles questions, Big River Group of St. Cloud:
- What’s working around here?
- What’s not working so well?
- What will make us better?
- What keeps us from improving?
- What should we move to the forefront?
Discussion at tables – Question 1.
Rev. Todd Nelsen, Faith, Spicer, reported on what’s working around here (in our synod). Group of 12 churches in north central part of synod participated in Stewardship for All Seasons. High degree of trust and energy. Opportunity to be the church together. We collaborate quite a bit between congregations and in our conferences.
Discussion at tables – Question 2.
Rev. Salim Kaderbhai, Faith, Madelia, and Our Saviour’s, Lake Crystal, shared reflections on what’s not working so well (in our synod). We’re happy with the status quo. We are not willing to have those difficult conversations – mental health, diversity, supporting our pastors. We need to be bolder about evangelizing. We need to take away the language of shame and move to the language of hope.
Discussion at tables – Question 3.
Pr. Todd and Pr. Salim shared thoughts from the Long-Range Planning Team. There’s a new microbrew in Madelia, so we could drink more beer (laughter) – develop and support local businesses. We are a community together. We need to lift up more storytellers. Open up religious education (Sunday school) to all ages. Necessary to ask the deep faith questions. How does our faith affect our lives in our congregations and our communities?
Conversations should continue in your congregations. What should we move to the forefront? Start prioritizing.
Rev. Linda Pedersen made a few comments about her coming retirement and then shared announcements. At her invitation, everyone helped to clear the floor of tables, chairs, recycling, garbage, etc. Next year’s synod assembly is planned to be June 7-8, 2019, in Redwood Falls.
Worship was at the top of list of what people like most about the synod assembly. Opening and ending worship services – important bookends to this event. So, we moved to the Performing Arts Center for closing worship and Holy Communion. Rev. Julius Miller, Our Redeemer’s, Hancock, preached. Bishop Jon was the presider. Rev. Lisa Janke, Shalom Hill Farm, assisted. Intern Amy Asendorf, Redwood Central, Wabasso area, was the lector. Music was led by the ELCA Glocal Musician Educators. Rev. Larry Strenge offered a blessing for Rev. Linda Pedersen. Installation of synod leaders preceded the litany for closing the assembly.All Assembly materials are available on the assembly webpage.