+Bishop Dee Pederson
Thanks be to God! And thanks to you for your prayers and your presence – in the physical or digital room – for the service of Installation on October 9. It has been 2 years (Fall Theological Conference 2019) since synod rostered leaders have gathered to sing together! So what a joy to hear the sound of all these voices praising God together – and with gusto, at that!
We had planned the day to be a living expression of our synod identity and mission: people from congregations planted across cities, farmland, and towns coming together. And it certainly was that! I want to extend heartfelt thanks to:
- the nearly 70 rostered ministers who made the trip, reconnected with each other, processed and worshiped with one heart and voice.
- worship leaders, lectors from our mission developments – Iglesia Paz y Esperanza and Reborn Lao, Communion servers, and musicians from many corners: First in Worthington, Paz, my first call congregation – Faith in Spicer, and Bethlehem in St. Cloud – with special thanks to all the Bethlehem musicians who made the drive to Granite Falls and helped us raise the roof.
- neighboring synod and full communion bishops for their prayers and presence, and of course, Presiding Bishop Eaton.
- the wonderful people of Granite Falls Lutheran Church for their hospitality, for opening their beautiful space to us for this worship service and hosting lunch / refreshments.
- Pr. Becca Krogstad and Tammy Schacher for capturing wonderful photos and Christopher Kiewel for doing the livestream.
- our dedicated and creative synod staff: Tammy Schacher for all the arrangements, Kristin Bakeberg for all of the design and print work, Maggie Berggren for welcoming, Synod Minister Pr. Steve Cook for coordinating the worship, and Sr. Sarah Hausken for assisting with verging. This staff has been working non-stop over the summer and into the transition this fall and I am so blessed to be able to continue to work with such a great team of leaders.
The day became a wonderful and unexpected church-family reunion. There were leaders from my home congregation of Messiah Lutheran, Washburn Wisconsin, friends from Faith in Spicer, Bethlehem St. Cloud, the Twin Cities, and across the synod. And what a joy – the presence of our children & their partners and children, my siblings from northern Wisconsin, and my uncle and cousins from the Chicago-area. The several quilts on the backs of the front pews were made by my mom and surrounded our family with the memory of my parents’ loving presence.
In these brief weeks of serving in the Office of the Bishop, I quickly gained a renewed appreciation for the power of prayer – both for my own prayer time and of being prayed for. I cannot imagine bearing the responsibilities of this ministry without being blessed by the power of your prayers. It was pure grace, poured out to overflowing, and those prayers will sustain me throughout the coming years.
People have asked me what my vision is for the synod; this is something we will discern together. But I can say that my hope and prayer for our congregations is that we embody the words of some of the hymns we sang that day:
- “Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live, a place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive. Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace; here the love of Christ shall end divisions: All are welcome in this place.” – ELW 641. Actually, the entire text of that hymn!
- “O God, beyond all praising, we worship you today and sing the love amazing that songs cannot repay. For we can only wonder at every gift you send, at blessings without number and mercies without end: we lift our hearts before you and wait upon your word, we honor and adore you, our great and mighty Lord…..And whether our tomorrows be filled with good or ill, we’ll triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless you still: to marvel at your beauty and glory in your ways, and make a joyful duty our sacrifice of praise.” – ELW 880
- “The Lord now sends us forth with hands to serve and give, to make of all the earth a better place to live. The angels are not sent into this world of pain to do what we were meant to do in Jesus’ name; that falls to you and me and all who are made free. Help us, O Lord, we pray, to do your will today.” ELW 538
- And finally, “…..through the church the song goes on.” ELW 414
There are probably 10 sermons in each of those hymns, but I hope they give you a better sense of how I will serve in the office of the synodical bishop as the synod’s pastor – rooted in pastoral understanding, and with a pastor’s heart. I give thanks to God for you and look forward to the ways God will lead us as a synod, walking together.