The Rev. Dee (Diane) Pederson, St. Cloud, Minn., was elected June 12 to serve a six-year term as bishop of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The election took place during an online synod assembly. Pederson was elected on the fifth ballot.
The bishop-elect has served as Director for Evangelical Mission (D.E.M.) in the Southwestern Minnesota Synod since 2019. Prior to that, she served as a pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Cloud from 1988 to 2006, and as lead pastor from 2006-2019. Her first call as an ordained pastor was to Faith Lutheran Church in Spicer, Minn., where she served as co-pastor from 1981 to 1988.
Pr. Dee was baptized and confirmed at Christ Lutheran Church, now Messiah Lutheran, in Washburn, Wisconsin, on the south shore of Lake Superior. Her family lived in the country, where her grandparents had a small dairy farm. She is the oldest of four children.
Pederson earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, in 1975 and her Master of Divinity degree from Luther Theological Seminary (now Luther Seminary) in St. Paul, Minn., in 1981. She earned her Doctor of Ministry degree, focused on congregational mission and leadership, from Luther Seminary in 2010.
In 1999 she was elected to serve a 6-year term on the ELCA Church Council, elected to the Church Council Executive Committee 2003-2005, and completed that work by serving as co-chair of the memorials committee for the 2005 Churchwide Assembly. From 2009-2011 she served as chair of the churchwide task force, “Living into the Future Together: Renewing the Ecology of the ELCA” (LIFT). The report of task force made recommendations related to two primary questions, “What is God calling this church to be and do?” and “What changes are in order to respond most faithfully?” Its recommendations were carried forward in many later initiatives.
In the life of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod, Pr. Dee has served on the Consultation Committee, Credentials Committee, and the Long-Range Planning Committee from 2009-2014.
Pr. Dee served on the developing and staff team for a program that began out of United Lutheran Seminary (Gettysburg) preparing pastors to serve in lead or senior pastor roles, and as president of the Sr. Pastors of Larger ELCA Churches, 2010-2011. As a faith leader in the community, Pr. Dee has been engaged in work dedicated to diversity appreciation, interfaith and ecumenical relationships, congregation-based organizing, and anti-racism initiatives in the St. Cloud area, all for over two decades.
Pr. Dee states, “I am so grateful for the strong leadership Bp. Jon Anderson has given to our synod for the past 18 years, and for the opportunity to serve as D.E.M. on the synod staff with him for nearly 2 years. And I am grateful for the opportunity to meet leaders in congregations during my first 5 months serving as D.E.M. and then getting acquainted over Zoom for the past year-plus. While still absorbing the results of the Synod Assembly, I am humbled by the responsibility this synod has entrusted to me with the call to serve in the Office of Bishop. I look forward to being out and about in the synod, finally able to meet with and listen to our leaders in person once again! I plan to begin to do this in many places across the synod this fall.”
In her ministry as D.E.M., Pr. Dee has been able to focus on congregational vitality and planning, generosity, hybrid ministries, innovation, congregational partnerships, racial justice, walking with our mission developments and strategic ministries, the growing young initiative, beginning to develop a coaching network, and updating congregational constitutions.
“As we look ahead, I continue to practice the “3 Great Listenings” – listening to God and Scripture, listening to one another, and listening to the world. I am excited about thinking with our leaders and congregations about what it means to live out our synod mission of being planted in cities, farms, and towns together. We do this together now in a culture that has been changing for decades and in a future dramatically shaped by the pandemic. And I am eager for us to imagine how the Holy Spirit might be activating each of us so more people know the way of Jesus and discover community, justice, and love.
Pr. Dee is married to John, who enjoys wood-working and finishing up his rehab of a 1955 Larson run-about boat. They are parents of two grown children, Anna and Derek, who were both born in South Korea, grew up in Spicer and St. Cloud, and now live in the Twin Cities area. Derek is married to Taylor, and they are parents of 3 beautiful girls: Avery, age 8; Emlynn, age 4; and Iris, age 2.
Fun-facts you might not know about Pr. Dee:
- Spending time with our amazingly delightful grand-girls.
- Areas of study: trinitarian theology, missional church, New Testament, Lutheran theological.
- Community service: happy to be an active Rotarian.
- Stress reduction and fitness: the Korean martial art are of Tae Kwon Do, 2nd degree Black Belt.
- Indoor fun: growing orchids.
- Beloved pet: an aging German Shepherd, looking forward to welcoming a puppy this summer.
- Favorite place of renewal: the ever-changing waters of Lake Superior.
- Best project during work-from-home: canning vegetables!
Bishop-elect Pederson will take office Sept. 1, and her installation is scheduled for Oct. 9.