March 22, 2021
Churchwide Representative for
Synod Assembly
Mikka McCracken, executive director for innovation and director of the ELCA Innovation Lab, will be the churchwide representative at our online Synod Assembly May 14-15. Mikka's role at ELCA is to equip, support and work with key leaders to address the church's biggest challenges of today while generating the dreams and path forward for the future.

Mikka is a lifelong Lutheran and hails from northern Minnesota. She is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter and currently serves on its board of trustees. She previously served the ELCA Churchwide Organization in a variety of roles, including director for strategy and engagement with ELCA World Hunger.

Registration is open for this year's Synod Assembly. Discounted “early bird’ registration of $35 per person is in effect through April 16. All participants must be registered by April 27. Voting members may register themselves or a congregation may register its full group. Please check with your congregation to find out how this is being handled. The only registrants for Synod Assembly in 2021 will be Voting Members and Advisors. All other interested parties may view the proceedings on Facebook Live or the synod website. Learn more and register at https://spas-elca.org/events/synod-assembly/.
Spring Ministerium for Rostered Ministers
Thursday, March 25 - 1 p.m. | Online
This year's Spring Ministerium will be a one-hour, online worship service for rostered ministers, including those who are retired, as well as interns and candidates. The service will include a blessing of vocation and prayers for rostered ministers going into Holy Week. Bishop Patricia Lull will preach. We also welcome Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter Rachel Kurtz as our featured musician. Rachel has been touring and singing for almost 20 years and has sung at the last six national youth gatherings.

Register here to receive the Zoom link.
Kids Can Find Anything: 
Let’s Make Sure They Don’t Find Guns
Tuesday, March 23 - 7-8:15 p.m. | Online
Guns are the number one cause of death for children and teens in the U.S. (JAMA Pediatrics, Jan. 25, 2021), but we can take action to change this shocking statistic. As adults who care about the well-being of children and families, we can work together to prevent child firearm deaths and injuries.

To find out more, join us for a presentation and discussion led by Pastor Ron Letnes and Pastor Rolf Olson of ENGAGE: Lutherans for Gun Violence Prevention, a public witness work group of the Saint Paul Area Synod. Rolf will share his survivor story and Jill Chisholm will present the Be SMART for Kids PowerPoint followed by a Q&A session. There will also be times for scripture and prayers. Together we can Be SMART and make a difference! Register here.
SPAS/MAS Youth Ministry Leader Check-In
Thursday, March 25 - 10-11:15 a.m. | Online
Join together alongside other youth directors, pastors, and leaders that make ministry possible. We'll meet on Zoom to offer a time of conversation in breakout rooms to give each other support in ideas, brainstorming, to help us as we implement our summer ministries. This meeting is hosted by the Minneapolis and Saint Paul Area Synods. Register here.
Fruitful Living Devotions
Diane Shallue, a retired deacon in our synod, is offering a free set of 12 devotions for ministry teams and committees. Each session of Fruitful Living includes a Bible reading, short meditation and prayer, along with reflection questions and suggested activities. Diane says, "Leaders of church committees often shorten or skip devotional time because of concern about a full agenda, but this move does not give an opportunity for spiritual growth or team building. Connection to God is what fuels energy and commitment to living as a Christian. It must not be neglected. The purpose of these devotions is to build a stronger relationship to God and to build deeper connections among team members to create energy for loving and serving the world." Download Fruitful Living here.

The devotions were published by the Christian Education Network of the ELCA, which supports lifelong faith formation in the home and congregation. The CENetwork offers guidance, networking and mutual support; identifies and evaluates resources and educational opportunities; facilitates communication and conversation; and nurtures spiritual growth, both online and face to face. Learn more.
Children's Ministry Gathering: Re-Engaging Families
Monday, April 12 - 2 p.m. | Online
How do we re-engage families after a year of isolation? What makes our ministry more like a community when we haven’t been together? Join us as we talk about these questions and more! Questions? Contact Rachelle Gill at rgill@easter.org or Julie Vagle at juliev@trinitylonglake.org.

Join the Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 850 7612 9637
Passcode: 473439

These children’s ministry gatherings are offered on the second Monday of every month (note this change in days!) through a partnership of the Minneapolis and Saint Paul Area Synods. Notes from previous gatherings may be found in the “files” section of the Twin Cities CYF ELCA Facebook group.
ELCA World Hunger Domestic Hunger Grants
Registration for 2022 ELCA World Hunger Domestic Hunger Grants is now ope. Visit www.elca.org/domestichungergrants to learn more and how to apply. Organizations applying for a grant for the first time must register by setting up an account in ELCA GrantMaker in order to access the grant application once it opens on April 19. If your organization is already registered in ELCA GrantMaker, now its a great time to log back in and confirm that the contact information in your account is up to date.

ELCA World Hunger will host a webinar via Zoom on Wednesday, March 24, at noon to review granting priorities and cover the basics of applying. To join this virtual event, you must complete a brief registration by noon today (March 22) in order to receive the webinar link. Please note that the webinar will be recorded and accessible on the Domestic Hunger Grant FAQ page.

Application Timeline:
  • Registration open: March 17–May 5, 2021. Applicants must be registered in ELCA GrantMaker to access the application. Allow up to two weeks for registration approval. If you have not registered by May 5, you will not be able to start a new application. If you have already registered in ELCA GrantMaker, you do not need to register again.
  • Application open: April 19–May 21, 2021
  • Application review: June 2021–October 2021
  • Awards recommendations shared with applicants and synods: November 2021
  • Final awards approved and announced: February 2022

NOTE: Congregations with feeding ministries should stay tuned for the next round of Daily Bread Matching Grants in the coming months. Visit www.elca.org/dailybread to learn more.
Bishop's Letters to Confirmands
Looking for a special addition to your congregation’s celebration of confirmation this year? Bishop Lull will write a letter to each confirmand, welcoming them to the next chapter in their faith life. If your congregation is interested, contact Anna Marsh (anna.marsh@spas-elca.org) for more details. Please allow two to three weeks before the service of confirmation.
Lutherans Restoring Creation
Earth Day Worship Service
Lutherans Restoring Creation will present the ELCA community with a special online service in celebration of Earth Day. This service is intended for use on April 25 (Good Shepherd Sunday), but can be downloaded for use according to a congregation's needs. The service will feature preaching by Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, visual journeys, musical offerings, pastoral insights and inspiration from lay leaders. Register now to receive a special link with download instructions at least a week beforehand. Learn more.
Guatemala Gala
Sunday, May 2 - 7 p.m. | Online
Many congregations in our synod have partnered with the Iglesia Luterana Agustina de Guatemala (Lutheran Church of Guatemala) over the years. Through the mutual sharing of stories, songs, prayers, and worship our lives have been enriched and our faith has deepened. This year's Guatemala Gala theme is "Partners in Education" and we're raising funds for:
  • the primary school loan repayment and continued renovations
  • scholarships for youth and adults in rural areas
  • training for church leaders in theology and technology
Watch for more information about the celebration of this ongoing global mission partnership at the 8th annual Guatemala Gala!
Portico Update
Stress is a pain in the neck: If you’re literally feeling the effects of too many hours staring at a computer screen, sitting in a not-so-ergonomically-correct chair, or carrying a year’s worth of pandemic worries in your shoulders, Portico members with ELCA-primary health benefits now have access to SWORD, a virtual therapy program for joint pain available at no out-of-pocket cost. Watch this short video for an introduction, and learn more about SWORD on myPortico.

Get the best rest. Good sleep is as much a factor of whole-person well-being as diet, exercise, and prayer. Check out the small steps you can take to set yourself up for healthy sleep on 2021 Live Well. Focusing on sleep for part of your Lent journey? ELCA-Primary members, both Being and Learn to Live offer more in-depth coaching and tracking that can help you make meaningful, lasting change.

Questions? Contact Deacon Terri Endres at 952-221-2000 or tendres@porticobenefits.org.
Riverside Innovation Fund
Augsburg University's Riverside Innovation Hub is recruiting 12 new congregations to join them in a two-year partnership exploring the call to be and become a public church. A public church is one committed to place-based vocational discernment in the public square for the common good, seeking to participate in God's promises for life and thriving for all. Applications are due April 15. Click here for the project overview.
Marriage Workshop Leader Retirement
After 20 years providing day long pre-marriage workshops for over 40 churches in the metro area, I am retiring in May. This has been a shared ministry of both metro synods that provided couples with a true gift from the church, the tools couples need to create a good foundation in their marriage. Over the years many couples reported back to their pastors that they were grateful for the opportunity and they felt they learned a lot. As a therapist it felt good to work to prevent many of the issues I see with couples in
marriage counseling.

I also appreciated the partnership between large churches and small churches that enabled all couples to get this preparation for marriage. Small congregations often don’t have the numbers of couples they need to create a fun workshop. By combining the numbers of all these churches we usually had 30
couples each workshop which added energy to the experience. I want to thank all the pastors who referred their couples to the workshop.

the Rev. Karen Stevensen, LICSW
Global Survey on Being Lutheran
In 2019, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) launched a study process to explore the ways our global Lutheran identities are lived out through biblical interpretation, worship and the work of justice, peace and reconciliation. As a member of the LWF, the ELCA is taking part in this unique study process. This is an opportunity to discern the ways in which we, in our own contexts, express law and gospel, faith and works, nature and grace, justification and sanctification, freedom and vocation – all parts of our common theological identity.

This Lent, you are invited to reflect on your Christian and Lutheran identities by participating in the Global Survey on Being Lutheran. We also ask that you invite others in your churches to participate. The survey will be open through March 31, and responses gathered will help to shape the 13th LWF Assembly in 2023. In addition, between now and June you are invited to take part in a larger conversation that
will transpire across the LWF communion. The LWF has produced a discussion guide titled We Believe in the Holy Spirit: Welcome to a Global Conversation on Being Lutheran. This guide will help lead your congregation’s Christian education and/or youth group on a journey of mutual discovery and learning.
The synod office is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A limited number of staff are on-site each day. You may continue to reach all staff members by phone (651-224-4313) or by email.
EVENTS OF INTEREST
"Being Church" Online Gatherings for ELCA Leaders
Wednesdays at 1 p.m. | Online
Rostered and lay leaders are invited to a weekly gathering of topical presentations designed to provide encouragement and support for ELCA leaders. On March 24, the topic is "Towards an Even Greater We" with Giovana Oaxaca (program director for migration policy with ELCA Advocacy) and Mary Campbell (program director for ELCA AMMPARO). They will discuss how Lutherans advocate on pressing migration
issues and how leaders can model this important ministry in their communities. Recordings of past sessions are available at www.elcacoaching.org/podcasts/media. Upcoming topics and presenters may be found at www.elcacoaching.org/.

Join the Zoom Meeting:
or by phone: +1 312 626 6799
Meeting ID: 180 439 412
Password: 648160
Addiction & Motivational Interviewing
Thursday, March 25 - 11 a.m.-12 p.m. | Online 
This free webinar is a conversation with Dr. William R. Miller, who is one of the world's leading addiction researchers and co-creator of Motivational Interviewing. Dr. Miller has dedicated his life and career to understanding how and why people change and the connections between psychology and spirituality. Join us for a conversation about this important evidence-based approach to addressing addiction. Miller's research applies to far more than just problematic behaviors but is helpful and inspirational for anyone interested in encouraging the process of personal and spiritual transformation. This webinar will be presented in interview format by the Center of Addiction & Faith. It will be co-hosted by Tim McMahan King and Pastor Ed Treat. Register here.
Caregiver Support Series
Tuesdays, April 13 - May 11, 7-8 p.m. | Online
Easter Lutheran in Eagan is offering a Caregiver Support Series, presented by Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. Normal conditions can be difficult to be a caregiver and pandemic conditions make this important role even more challenging. This series will provide practical knowledge to make you a better caregiver, tips on how to assist caregivers, steps to prepare you for a future caregiving role and preparation for your own aging journey.

You may be thinking “I’m not a caregiver, I’m just a son/daughter, a mother/father, a neighbor, or
friend who provides support to someone I know and love.” Well this series is for you, too! We want you to be able to rock the caregiving experience! Turn it from a burden to an opportunity...from surviving to thriving!
  • April 13 - Who is a caregiver and what is caregiving all about?
  • April 20 - The Stages of Caregiving
  • April 27 - Finding the Help You Need - Caregiver Resources
  • May 4 - Understanding Alzheimer's and Dementia, Including the warning signs
  • May 11 - How to identify and engage your support team
Emergency Preparedness Symposium
Thursday, April 22 - 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. | Online
Learn about considerations for fire safety, medical, mental health and weather emergencies in the context of faith communities. Attendees will learn who needs to be involved in emergency preparedness, faith community nurses' role in planning, and how to work with community resources such as fire, police, and emergency services. Breakout groups will allow time for participants to share about current safety practices and how to apply presentation information to their own practice. Attendees will leave with concrete resources to create emergency plans in their faith community. The symposium is sponsored by the Faith Community Nurse Network, but this program is open to all who are interested. The cost is $25 for faith community nurses and $40 for others. Learn more and register.
Other Event Reminders:
The Saint Paul Area Synod, which includes 110 congregations and new mission starts,
is one of 65 synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
www.spas-elca.org | 651.224.4313