+Bishop Dee Pederson
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it. – Psalm 24:1
I grew up in northern Wisconsin, where the soil is pure clay. Sand if you drive farther away from Lake Superior; that area, we called, The Barrens. Just over the hill from my family home, my grandparents had a small dairy farm: maybe a dozen milking cows, some chickens, a dog or two, and plenty of barn cats. It was there that I learned to milk the cows by hand, drive the tractor (the old Ford was easiest for a kid to drive at age 10), help with haying, and in our down time – chase kittens.
When I began the call to serve as bishop of this synod last fall, I asked leaders about the possibility of visiting some of the farms in the synod. I knew that my experience of farming as a kid, and the farming operations here today, were a world apart. So I was overjoyed when Pr. Janel Kuester, Christ Lutheran Cottonwood, made arrangements for me to get an introduction to farming in southwestern Minnesota. I wanted to learn about business models, methods, wisdom, and what life and people’s daily vocation are like. On Monday, I had the amazing experience of learning so much from some of the people in farming in the Cottonwood area.
It was a full day, beautifully planned and arranged by Pastor Janel. I am grateful to the wonderful people who gave of their time, shared their knowledge, and welcomed me into the world of their daily work. From my humble experiences on my grandparents’ little farm decades ago to southwestern Minnesota, I was able to learn from the experts here. They introduced me to the new technology, science, and business that is part of every aspect of farming today. We visited the Agronomy Center and elevator, a conventional farm, and organic farm. I learned about tilling and planting and harvest. They introduced me to implements, insurance, banking, timing, and risk-taking.
When we began the day, Tim Velde told me that it’s all about patience. And over the course of the day, I learned the realities of this. I also discovered in new ways, how we are all connected around the globe. Life for everyone in agriculture, and anyone who eats food, depends upon the weather, prices, futures, supply chains, transportation, and yes, the war in Ukraine. But perhaps the theme I heard again and again is the faith of these leaders, the deep responsibility they feel for the land and their animals. Many of them are stewarding a farm or a business as the third or fourth generation, and all of them want to make a difference for the lives of people near and far.
Again, I am so grateful to the people who welcomed me into their businesses and their lives. I am grateful serve the people and congregations here who, together, are living out their faith, caring for this good earth, and feeding God’s precious children.