SYNOD NEWS AND EVENTS - September 27, 2018
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September Synod Council Report
+Pr. Kathryn Skoglund, Synod Minister 
Leadership for Faithful Innovation
This past December a group of ELCA bishops, synod staff members and pastors were invited to Luther Seminary to hear about a project made possible through a million dollar grant the seminary received from the Lilly Endowment Inc.'s Thriving in Ministry Initiative. After prayerful discernment our synod, along with the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana, South Carolina, South Eastern Pennsylvania, Western North Dakota and New Jersey synods agreed to be a part of this exciting endeavor entitled Leadership for Faithful Innovation. Below is an overview of what it is all about.

What is the Journey?
God is up to something new. We believe the Holy Spirit is moving ahead of the church, calling the church into a new future in a time of disruptive social and cultural change. This presents some new leadership challenges for the local church. Luther Seminary and several synods, including our SW MN Synod are recognizing that even pastors who are really good at leading in the local church are facing challenges which they don't know how to address. These pastors often feel isolated in their work. This journey is designed to connect pastors, synod leaders, congregations, and the seminary into a new kind of generative learning community which provides enough depth, longevity, space, structure, and support to innovate faithfully in today's world. Together, we will engage ancient spiritual practices and cutting edge innovation theory as we discover ways to join God in cultivating Christian faith in community. Rather than work harder at old ministry patterns that are breaking down, we will seek to identify and embody together faithful ways to lead the church more deeply into God's life and love for the world.

How Does it Unfold?
The Leadership for Faithful Innovation journey is designed around peer learning cohorts with approximately five other pastors in your synod over a period of three years. We call these Pastor Learning Communities (Pastor LC). There are also two other types of learning communities: Synod Learning Communities and Congregation Learning Communities. Leaders from each participating synod form a learning community throughout the process with the Luther Seminary grant team (Synod LC); and a lay team from each pastor's congregation forms a local learning community in the final two years (Congregation LC).

The basic rhythm of work includes in-person trainings in the fall, winter, and spring of each of the three years (fall 2018-fall 2021) and monthly Zoom video conference coaching in between. Pastors will be given practices to introduce into their own leadership contexts that help them and their communities listen more deeply to God; define the underlying challenges facing them; reframe expectations for church membership and leadership; and cultivate new ways of being church that foster faithful innovation.

Currently we have nine pastors from six congregations who will be participating thanks to money received through our funding initiative that will help reduce individual and congregational costs not covered by the seminary's grant. Our first training event will be this October at Green Lake Bible Camp. As part of the Synod Learning Community I look forward to seeing what God has in store for us as we move into this new adventure.
The Ministerial Excellence Fund's Grant for
Unexpected Medical Expense

+Andrew Hermodson-Olsen, Lilly Project Director
We have available to pastors, deacons, and their families a grant for unexpected medical expenses that may have arisen during 2018. There were more applications for this grant in the first year it was offered and not so many now this second year. This may reflect a year of less surprises, but if it means people have forgotten it is available, I write to remind you.

The process for applying for the grant is as follows. You submit an online application found on our synod webpage. You may apply for yourself or for someone in your immediate family who has had unexpected medical condition in the realm of physical or mental health. As part of the application, you also send in a bill(s) showing the expense of treatment. The application is reviewed by our three person MEF review team. Approval means a check(s) will be issued directly to the place of billing for up to $1,000. If you have already paid the bill, the grant can be issued directly to you, but it will be taxable in this case. The IRS allows that medical bills paid directly to the provider will not be taxed as income.

Note that if you applied in 2017 and received a grant, you are still eligible to apply in 2018 for the same unexpected issue if you are still being treated for it or still paying on it. We will have the application open until December 31, 2018.

With prayers for healing, with care for one another, we offer this grant for the help of the synod's pastors, deacons, and their families. If you have any questions, please call Synod Minister Kathryn Skoglund at the synod office or myself at the phone number listed.
Pr. Andrew Hermodson-Olsen, Lilly Project Director
Pr. Kathryn Skoglund, Synod Minister
Boundaries Training 
Sexual misconduct by rostered and other religious leaders is one of the most serious challenges faced by the church today. Violation of the sacred trust between church members and their leaders brings deep pain to all who are affected: victims, offenders, family members, friends, and the congregation itself. 

In response to this challenge, the Southwestern Minnesota Synod bylaws include the following provisions (S14.25.01. and S14.47.01.):

"Within twelve months of assuming office all ministers of Word and Sacrament under call shall demonstrate completion of at least six contact hours of continuing education in the prevention of sexual boundary violations." and

"Within twelve months of assuming office all ministers of Word and Service under call shall demonstrate completion of at least six contact hours of continuing education in the prevention of sexual boundary violations."

Our synod council has a continuing resolution encouraging all of our rostered leaders to have continued work on appropriate boundaries of all kinds, but especially sexual boundaries, every three years.

Our synod's Boundaries Training: 
Date: Monday, Nov. 5, 2018
Times: 8:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Location: Faith Lutheran, Spicer
Registration will be posted soon.
You can attend the following events and receive credit by emailing Carla Klawitter at 
Grow Our Own Summit
Thursday, November 8, 2018
Southwest Minnesota State University - Recreation/Athletic Facility, Marshall MN 
Registration opens at 8 a.m.; Event time 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Lunch and refreshments provided.

Too many southwest Minnesota kids aren't getting the best start to life. We're working to change that. Join the Southwest Initiative Foundation as we support our kids and the communities they call home. During the summit, you'll learn and be inspired to take action that will benefit youth, as well as your own business, organization, school, community or family.

Event Speakers:
Nisha Patel served as executive director of the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, guiding a task force in answering one big, bold, exciting question: What would it take to dramatically increase mobility from poverty? She is now managing director of narrative change and national initiatives at Robin Hood, New York's largest poverty-fighting organization.

Ray Boshara is a senior adviser and the director of the Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The center conducts research on family balance sheets and how they matter for strengthening families and the economy. He is also a senior fellow in the Financial Security Program at the Aspen Institute.

This event is open to the public. Groups of people representing all areas of your community are encouraged to attend together!
Click here for more information and to register. 
Synod Events
Below is a list of all the upcoming synod events. Visit the synod events webpage for more information.
September 18, 2018
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Redwood Falls 

September 24-25, 2018
Green Lake Lutheran Ministries

October 7-9, 2018
Alexandria, MN

NW/SW MN Clergy Spouse Retreat
November 2-4, 2018
Luther Crest Bible Camp, Alexandria

Jr High Youth Gathering
November 16-17 & 17-18, 2018
Willmar Conference Center, Willmar
Registration Opens Oct. 8th!

Equipping Confregations Day
February 23, 2019
Willmar, MN

Sr. High Youth Gathering
April 5-6, 2019
Lake Geneva Christian Center
Alexandria, MN

SW MN Synod Assembly
June 7-8, 2019
Redwood Falls, MN

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