April 5, 2021
Assistant to the Bishop for Lay Leadership and Equity Initiatives
We are excited to welcome Rolf Lowenberg-DeBoer as the new Assistant to the Bishop for Lay Leadership and Equity Initiatives. A graduate of Purdue University and Luther Seminary, Rolf most recently served with The Twin Cities Social Cohesion Initiative. A theologically trained lay person, Rolf brings experience from both non-profit and church leadership to this new role on the synod staff. His previous experience has been as an executive director, fundraiser, community organizer, and direct service provider working at City House, St. Stephen’s Human Services, The Episcopal Church in Minnesota, and Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.

“We are living in a time of great change,” Rolf says. “The multiple crises of climate, pandemic, and racial and economic injustice are visible all around us. Communities of faith have a crucial role to play. Lay leaders will be vital to efforts around the world to take on these crises.” Rolf currently attends St. John in the Wilderness in White Bear Lake, which is a parish of the Episcopal Church, a full communion partner of the ELCA. He and his family live in White Bear and are avid gardeners. Rolf begins his work for the synod today, April 5.
Synod Assembly Agenda
The proposed agenda for the 2021 Synod Assembly is now available at this link. Our gathering will be held online on Friday, May 14, 2-5 p.m. and Saturday, May 15, 9 a.m.-12:40 p.m. For credentialing purposes, registrants should plan to check in on Zoom one hour to 45 minutes prior to the start of each session.

Discounted “early bird’ registration of $35 per person continues 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/.
Living Out Our Promises
When the pandemic hit, Pastor Joel Vander Wal began recording a story from the Spark Story Bible each week for the families in his congregation, Incarnation in Shoreview. The effort aligned with a learning cohort project focused on scripture.

As spring turned into summer, I continued to do weekly Bible story readings. I began to do them on Facebook Live, and even invited my kids, (and occasionally our dog, LeRoy) to join me in telling or acting out the stories each week. For my family, these Bible stories became more than just words or colorful pictures; they became an embodiment of the Living God.

What was most joyful for me was reading the story to my kids ahead of time and asking them to help come up with ideas on how we could retell the story to our friends at church. Watching their imaginations and creativity take hold as they looked for props or costumes in our house helped me to see this as more than just a project for my faith community. Rather, it became a chance for me to live into the promises I made at their baptism, and to encourage our faith community to do the same.

Read Pastor Joel's full post in our Stories of the Synod blog.
Qualified Administrators of the IDI
As more congregations and organizations across the Saint Paul Area Synod begin to make use of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) as a tool for assessing and developing their intercultural skills, there's growing demand for a network of qualified administrators (QAs) to accompany them on their developmental journeys. If you are a licensed QA who is affiliated with a Saint Paul Area Synod congregation or partner institution and you'd like to connect with others while building a community of practice, fill out this interest form or contact the Rev. Peter Harrits in the synod office.
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 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.
Congregational Asylum-Seeker Sponsorship Training
Thursdays, April 15 & 22 - 2-3:30 p.m.
With the great need we are seeing from ministries at the border with asylum-seekers entering the U.S. and needing accompaniment, ELCA AMMPARO is offering a two-part training for congregations interested in exploring congregational asylum-seeker sponsorship. To register, send an email to mary.campbell@elca.org. Congregations are encouraged to gather the names of their own participants and send names and emails by April 11.

Here are criteria to consider to help determine if this could be feasible for your congregation:
  1. Approval of leadership of congregation to explore asylum-seeker sponsorship.
  2. Team of people committed to work together for a year or more to walk with the sponsored asylees. (Team size should be no less than 5-6 people and needs to include several people who can communicate in the asylee’s language.)
  3. Capacity to raise funds to cover costs for food, clothing, shelter, housing, medical care, legal fees, immigration case expenses, transportation and incidentals.
  4. Cross-cultural training and racial justice work has happened or is happening not only for the team but the congregation.
  5. Capacity to connect the asylees with legal services, either pro bono or paid.

Questions? Email Mary Campbell, AMMPARO Program Director, at mary.campbell@elca.org.
Now the Green Blade Rises: Storytelling for the Healing of Creation
EcoFaith Summit 2021
Saturday, April 17 - 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. | Online
The event will feature Dr. Barbara Rossing, Professor of New Testament, Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, Director of Environmental Studies Program; along with diverse storytellers. Small group breakout sessions provide the opportunity to react, dream, consider future actions and share. Along with worship, biblical and other stories, the purpose is to strengthen the grassroots movement among the people of God, to hear the cry of creation and heed God’s call to respond. All are welcome! Register (free) and learn more at http://bit.ly/ecofaithsummit21.

This event is hosted by the EcoFaith Network of the Northeastern Minnesota Synod, together with
the EcoFaith Network of the Minneapolis Area Synod, Lutheran Advocacy Minnesota, Lutherans Restoring Creation, Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, the Saint Paul Area Synod Care of Creation Work Group, and Together Here Ministries - Northeastern Minnesota Synod. Download a poster here.
American Indian Boarding Schools (2-Part Event)
Saturdays, April 17 (3-5 p.m.) & May 8 (9-11 a.m.) | Online
From the moment the first ship reached the shores of the Americas, the Church has been a force of colonization, causing pain and suffering for Indigenous peoples. One particular colonial endeavor that caused lasting trauma, from which Indigenous communities are still recovering, is Indian Boarding Schools. With the motto “Kill the Indian, and save the man,” (Capt. Richard H. Pratt, 1892) these schools were the federal government’s chosen method of forced assimilation. Most of these schools were run by the Church. 
In 2016 the ELCA repudiated the doctrine of discovery, calling for the worshipping communities, synods and the denomination as whole “…to acknowledge and repent from this church’s complicity in the evils of colonialism in the Americas…”(CA16.02.04). As part of this work, the Saint Paul Area Synod's Advocates for Racial Equity work group, in partnership with the Minneapolis Area Synod and the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, is offering a two-part Indian Boarding Schools 101 presentation and discussion. 
  • Part One (April 17): Indian Board Schools 101 - Presenter Vance Blackfox, director of public relations for the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, will provide an in-depth history lesson of the harms of these boarding schools, the role of the church in these schools and what steps we might take toward healing.
  • Part Two (May 8): Story Sharing - Individuals who spent time in Indian Boarding Schools will share about their experiences.

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 on the synod's Facebook page or website. Learn more at www.spas-elca.org/2021-guatemala-gala.
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.
Is This for Me?
The synod has been asked recently if the events listed in this newsletter are available to anyone or are they just for rostered ministers. Unless an event description specifies an audience, the event is open to all who are interested!
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.
"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 April 7, the topic is The Life of Faith Initiative, an ELCA grassroots effort designed to equip all God's saints for the work of ministry in their everyday roles and relationships. Presenters include Craig Nessan of Wartburg Theological Seminary, and the Rev. Dwight Dubois, author of The Scattering: Imagining a Church That Connects Faith and Life. For better context, please watch the 17-minute introductory video prior to our gathering. 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
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:
Bishop Patricia Lull
  • April 18 - Christ, Lake Elmo

Pastor Justin Grimm
  • April 11 - Immanuel, Almeland
  • April 18 - St. Paul, Wyoming
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