SYNOD NEWS AND EVENTS - January 29, 2019
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Weather Announcement - Synod Office Hours
The synod office follows the Redwood Area School District policy on weather conditions such as snow, ice and visibility conditions. If school is closed, so is the synod office. With the exception of cold weather days, the synod office will be open. Tomorrow, January 30, 2019 there will be record breaking cold temperatures and for that the synod office will be closed. The synod ministers will be available by email.
Synod Minister, Kathryn Skoglund -
Synod Minister, Steve Cook -
Director for Evangelical Mission, Larry Strenge -
Bishop Jon Anderson -

Rev. Stephen Cook, Synod Minister
Report to Synod Council, Jan. 12, 2019
My aunt Shirley asked me, "So what is you do in your new position?"
I said I was the Synod Minister for Equipping Congregations. I am part of a team, led by the bishop. Working with my staff colleagues, I help congregations who need a pastor and pastors looking for a congregation to serve find each other. I consult with congregations who experience difficulties. In particular, I attend to local congregations and there leaders, many of which are small, who struggle with a future with declining resources, but which continue to be vital to the health and stability of their communities.

Shirley said, "What do you equip them for and with what?" I thought these were excellent questions and told her so.

As I write this report I have been in this ministry for 10 weeks, so I am still trying to figure out good answers to these questions. This is what I've come up with for now.
I hope to find ways for congregations to be a little calmer, a little more thoughtful, and a little more relaxed in how they deal with each other when faced with challenges.

I hope to help congregations be a little more creative with the resources they do have and open themselves up to share what they have with their community as it is now, not as it might have been at some other time.

I hope to help congregations find strength in their weekly gatherings, where they share the promise of God in Christ in scripture proclaimed in preaching, in the water and in the meal, and in the love and support they share.

I hope to help congregations see themselves as part of a larger fellowship, with partners in our Southwestern Minnesota Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, our full communion partners, and the worldwide fellowship of Jesus followers. I hope to help them see these relationships as ones where they can contribute unique gifts.

I hope to help congregations see themselves as transitional, no matter when they are in their life cycle. Everything has a beginning, middle, and end. Local congregations are not exceptions. If the story that scripture tells means anything, it means that God is in all of this - endings as much as the beginnings. Perhaps if congregations were a little less absorbed in survival they might have more fun together, might serve their community with more impact and - perhaps - might do so for a longer time.

You will notice that these thoughts are around relationships more than activities. Programs, training, surveys and consultants can be of use to a congregation that is calm enough to consider new ideas and approaches. Unless a congregation is open enough such great ideas and techniques are more likely to increase conflict than lower it.

Of course, learning new ideas and programs can be important. Other people have been down the trail before us and have left us marks to follow. Wise and gifted people have thought long and deeply about how to respond. We should learn from them!

Part of the answer to "with what?" leads us to the many events our Synod arranges to equip congregations. Some upcoming ones are:
Planning is well underway for the Equipping Congregation Day, February 23rd in Willmar.

Conference and Synod Assemblies are places where we gather to build community and build each other up by sharing common ministries beyond the local congregations.

The Equipping Congregations Board is planning an event in the November for lay worship leaders. In many of our congregations lay people are taking on larger and more frequent roles in planning and leading worship. We hope that this event will help build confidence and skills in these roles.

For the last 2 ½ years I have offered a monthly seminar to assist rostered and lay leaders to deal with the anxieties of leadership in this age of mission. Calmer, less reactive, and more thoughtful leaders are more likely to form calmer, less reactive, and more thoughtful congregations. We do this by coaching each other in applying the insights of natural/family systems thinking to concrete situations which challenge leaders.

It is a privilege to have the opportunity to serve the Synod in the vital work of equipping congregations for a new age of mission. I am grateful for the opportunity.
Ties to the SW MN Synod 
Two fun facts about the following articles:
  1. In the ELCA's video, Deacon Emily Myallis, served on the SW MN Synod Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO) board and her father, Pr. Randy Chrissis, is serving Glenwood Lutheran Church in Glenwood, MN.
  2. The Rev. Dr. Mary Hinkle shore used to be rostered and served in the SW MN Synod.
Service to God, service to others
+ Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Deacon Emily Myallis serves as the director of children's ministry at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Lititz, Pa. Through a scholarship from ELCA Fund for Leaders Emily has been able to share her gifts through the ministry of word and service. Because of the Fund for Leaders, over 540 rostered ministers just like Emily have been able to pursue their call to serve as leaders within the ELCA.

Service to God, service to others
ELCA Fund for Leaders, click here to view.

Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary names new rector and dean
The Rev. Dr. Mary Hinkle Shore has been announced as the newly appointed rector and dean at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS) of Lenoir-Rhyne University, located in Columbia, South Carolina. Shore will begin her duties in February.

In her role as rector and dean, Shore will serve as the lead academic and church administrator for LTSS and work to further develop the seminary to an exemplary status within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

"I look forward to deepening our relationships with congregations and other innovative ministries to which our students will be called," Shore said. "Our alumni are crucial partners in helping to strengthen connections within the ELCA and with our ecumenical partners. Together, we are stronger and more imaginative as we prepare leaders for mission."

LTSS, which was founded in 1830 and merged with Lenoir-Rhyne in 2012, offers graduate degrees in Christian ministry, divinity, sacred theology, and theological studies. LTSS is one of seven ELCA seminaries in the United States, and the only ELCA seminary in the Southeast. Rich in tradition and welcoming to seminarians from many denominations, LTSS boasts a dedicated, collegial faculty and a broad alumni base of distinguished regional and national church leaders.

Shore is the current pastor at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepard in Brevard, North Carolina, a position she has served in since 2013. She also served 16 years at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she held positions as a professor with tenure and associate dean.

"Dr. Shore has extraordinary credentials and was clearly the top candidate recommended by the students, faculty, and staff at the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary," said University President Dr. Fred Whitt. "She is highly qualified to represent our seminary to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and beyond."

Shore is a frequent speaker and author of the book "Signs of Belonging: Luther's Marks of the Church and the Christian Life." She has also published articles in The Christian Century magazine, Word and World journal, Journal for Preachers, and the website Working Preacher. Shore completed her doctorate in religion at Duke University, a Master of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary, and a Bachelor of Arts in Religion degree from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. She is a member of LR's Board of Trustees, a position from which she will step down before assuming the title of rector and dean at LTSS. Shore and her husband, Hank, will relocated to Columbia and will live on the LTSS campus.

To learn more about LTSS visit
Article Correction: 

Gathering First Fruits:

National Summit on the Economics of Ministry
January 16-18, 2019
+Bishop Jon V. Anderson 
I am thankful for the recent event that Pr. Don McKee, Pr. Andrew Hermodson-Olsen, Pr. Dwaine Bruns, Jennifer Philaya, Pr. Nate Luong and I were able to attend to deepen our work of addressing the economic challenges of pastors and ministry. We are working on finishing up our first grant at the end of January. Thanks to a second grant we are beginning to plan for the next three years of work in our synod to build sustainability into this work and deepen our culture's commitment to address these challenges and opportunities. 

We were able to talk about these challenges with representatives from three other synods in this project and church leaders from a wide ecumenical representation. What is amazing is how much we share in common. We left charged up with new ideas and a deeper conviction about the importance of this work of breaking down the walls of silence in God's Church about financial matters and to address strategically financial matters in the lives of our ministers and congregations.  
Thanks in particular to Pr. Andrew Hermodson-Olsen for his leadership of our work through the past several years. We also express gratitude to Deb Hess, Pr. Bill Nelsen, Pr. Dwaine Bruns, and Pr. Larry Strenge for their work on this. We remember and appreciate our leadership team. We finally give thanks for all the amazing donors whether individuals or congregations.  

We will share more in the weeks to come about what we learned.

The Summit was an event bringing together representatives from more than 110 projects funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. in three initiatives that address the economic challenges facing Christian seminaries, churches and clergy in the United States. The projects are coordinated by three organizations funded by Lilly Endowment - The Association of Theological Schools, In Trust Center for Theological Schools and the Center for Congregations. The Summit was hosted by the Center for Congregations and made possible through a grant from Lilly Endowment.
Submit your Forms A & C (parochial report)
2018 Forms A & C are due on Feb. 15. These reports are vital to the ELCA's commitment to improving its efforts to spread the good news and are used in allocating the ELCA's resources to synods and congregations. Did you know that the information you submit (or do not submit) in your reports goes into your congregation's trend report, which is publicly available online? Seekers looking for your congregation can see not only the information you submit but also whether the congregation has submitted Forms A & C. Please submit these reports so that visitors can learn more about your congregation!

To view a congregation's trend report on the ELCA website, visit the ELCA directory, click congregations and search a congregation to download their trend report.

To fill out these forms you must have your congregation ID number and password. Passwords change from year to year. Congregation passwords can be found on the mailed form A (top right) or please call the synod office at 507-637-3904.

You can file electronically or by mail.
- Click here to access online A & C Forms
- Click here for general instructions (PDF)
Synod Events
Below is a list of all the upcoming synod events. Visit the synod events webpage for more information.
Click here for 2019 Conference Assembly Dates.
February 2, 2019
Trinity, Truman
Kvitseid, Milan
Kandiyohi, Kandiyohi

Equipping Congregations Day
February 23, 2019
Willmar, MN
Registration Open!

April 5-6, 2019
Lake Geneva Christian Center
Alexandria, MN

SW MN Synod Assembly
June 7-8, 2019
Redwood Falls, MN
Other Upcoming Events 
  • Rural Ministry Conference: Building Resilience Among Leaders & Communities
    Wartburg Theological Seminary's Center for Theology & Land
    March 3-5, 2019 in Dubuque, IA
    Click here for more information.
  • 6th Pitchfork and Hay: A Theological Retreat
    April 1-3, 2019 at Shalom Hill Farm, Rural Windom, MN
    Click here for more information.

Southwestern Minnesota Synod, ELCA 
PO Box 499, Redwood Falls, MN 56283
Phone: 507-637-3904