The Southwestern Minnesota Synod is governed by an annual synod assembly, voting members from each congregation in the SW MN Synod elect a Synod Council and Bishop to provide oversight and leadership between synodical assemblies.

Rev. Dr. Dee Pederson was elected June 12, 2021, to serve a six-year term as bishop of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Churchwide Voting Members

Synod Assembly

Voting members from each congregation and all rostered ministers in the Southwestern Minnesota Synod gather annually to worship, learn, conduct business, and prayerfully deliberate about what God is calling us to do in the synod. The Synod Assembly is the synod’s highest legislative authority within the SW MN Synod.

2023 Synod Assembly
June 9-10, 2023, in person, at Gustavus Adolphus College.

Synod Constitution

The synod constitution is a governing document of our church's expressions in the ELCA. It reflects the theology and polity of this church. Each congregation has its own constitution.

Synod Council

The Synod Council consists of four officers and 10-24 other members (shall include one person from each conference), and at least one youth. The council is elected by the synod assembly and serves a three-year term.

The vice president of the synod and chair of the Synod Council is Mr. Ferman Woodberry, serving his first, four-year term.

Council Members:

  • Rev. Dee Pederson, Bishop
  • Mr Ferman Woodberry, Vice-President
  • Mr Chuck Engebretson, Treasurer
  • Dale Brandsoy, Hutchinson, At-Large, Exec. Comm
  • Rev Ann Zastrow, Secretary
  • Ms Marny Behrends, Clara City
  • Rev Michael Carlson, Sauk Centre
  • Rev. Heather Culuris, Synod Staff
  • Ms Janelle Eisenbacher, Atwater
  • Ms Beryl Haugen, Luverne
  • Ms Kristy Henriksen, Pipestone
  • Mr Donn Hoffman, Litchfield
  • Ms Cherrish Holland, New London
  • Ms Carla Johnson, Montevideo
  • Rev Erik Karlson, Hector
  • Rev Janel Kuester, Cottonwood
  • Rev Krista Lee, Glenwood
  • Rev Jeanette McCormick, Worthington
  • Rev David Nissen, New Ulm
  • Ms Yvonne Noorlun, Truman
  • Ms Ilene Penk, Brownton
  • Rev Troy Pflibsen, Synod Staff
  • Mr Thomas Philaya, Montevideo
  • Rev Christopher Richards, Cyrus
  • Rev Adam Roberts, Windom
  • Ms Anita Stoker, Morris
  • Rev Shannon Wachter, Redwood Falls

Conference Deans

A Synod Dean is a rostered minister elected from within their conference. The Dean is the administrative officer of the conference and is an extension of the Office of the Bishop. The dean facilitates communication between the congregations in the conference and between the conference and the bishop.


  • Rev Ann Hokenstad, Shetek
  • Rev Janel Kuester, Prairie
  • Rev Becca Krogstad, Scenic Valley
  • Rev John Gabrielson, Great River
  • Rev Kristine Isder, Lac Qui Parle
  • Rev Steve Meier, Lakeland
  • Rev Mark Little, Crow River
  • Rev Scott Richards, Minnesota Valley
  • Rev Andrew Hermodson-Olsen, Watonwan River
  • Rev Dan Belgum-Blad, Glacial Ridge
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