SYNOD NEWS AND EVENTS - January 10, 2019
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Farming/Agribusiness Challenges
+Bishop Jon V. Anderson
I encourage you to become curious if you live and serve in communities with farmers and agricultural businesses. Assume each farmer's story is unique. This is also true of people in agribusiness. Asking people how they are doing and listening will go a long way. Who should I touch base with if I have time? What you learn will open ministry opportunities inside your congregation and in your community. It will also equip you to lead in decisions related to your congregation or parish.

If you did not grow up in a rural culture, this is a good time to talk with people who you trust about what is happening in your local context. This will help you sharpen your ministry in this time when people in agribusiness are experiencing serious stress and challenges. People who own family land held for generations are in one situation while people who rent most of the land they farm are in another. There are serious systemic issues related to price and supply that impact most farmers. There are also unique challenges like the many farmers whose yields were deeply reduced by heavy rains in the southern part of our synod. In these people's lives, there are also many different farming management decisions which impact where particular members of your congregation and community are standing.

Before Christmas we saw this story which raised alarms. Since then there have been other stories posted like it. 
I have done a lot of listening since reading the first story. I also have spoken to a number of businessmen and farmers. Across our synod people are living with depressed farm prices. They are burning up their cash/equity. Each kind of agriculture has its own nuance. People have been helpful in helping me see into the many dilemmas and opportunities. Working to prevent suicides among rural people in general is important. Walking alongside people who are living through this challenging economic time is a privilege and ministry opportunity.

We have had a number of congregations contact us because they are laboring with reduced financial strength. In some cases, because of the loss of generous elders to death and the current agricultural stress, the model of the current congregation's ministry will need to be adjusted or reformed. New alliances or parishes may need to form or be added on to so that the system can reach sustainability.

We can easily slide into freezing or fighting in the stress. Yet, God is calling us to focus on our work of proclaiming the Good News, reforming our institutions that serve that mission and keep our eyes open for new opportunities in the midst of the challenges and even losses of this time. I take comfort in the Good News that Jesus encouraged his disciples to travel light (Luke 10).

My advice is to be curious, pray and talk about where is God in the midst of all of this. In every challenge or even crisis there are also opportunities. For example, friends can be great medicine for someone who is feeling stuck or trapped. Our theology reminds us that our God is with us in the cross like moments of our life. Our resurrecting gracious God also continues to create new things. God's Holy Spirit inspires our imaginations and calls us to grow gracious disciples of Jesus in our ministry as the baptized and as members of our congregations.

Hope in the Heartland
Imagining Our Future as Small Congregations
The world is changing quickly. God is giving us new birth into a living hope.
Eight synods from across the Midwest will be participating at 21 local gathering sites for a day of discovery and partnership.

Join Saturday, February 2, 2019 at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Sioux Falls, SD or any of the livestream locations:
-Trinity, Truman
-Kvitseid, Milan
-Ebenezer, Kandiyohi
10AM-4:30PM CST (Check in begins at 9:30AM CST)

Cost: $50/Congregation, plus $10/person for lunch. 
Registration deadline: Friday, January 25, 2019
This conference will be most helpful for congregations with up to 100 people in worship on a weekly basis.
IMPORTANT Dates and Information
Start checking off your to do list. At the beginning of every year we always ask you to share your congregation's information in many ways. These really important tasks help grow our ministry. Please take the time to fill out the following:

Annual Meeting Resources
Visit our annual meeting webpage for report covers, meeting documents and other helpful resources to help you get ready for your congregation meeting.

Mission Support Intents
As your congregation prepares a budget for 2019, please share with us your Mission Support Intent amount for the Southwestern Minnesota Synod by clicking here.
Deadline: ASAP
 
Update Your Congregational Leadership Data
The synod office uses this information for the call process, giving statements, and getting helpful resources to the correct person.
Click here to update now.
Deadline: ASAP

Forms A & C (Parochial Reports)
Watch for a letter in the mail coming from the ELCA Churchwide office with your congregation password. Online forms will be open soon! Click here to access the online forms. If you do not know your congregation ID or password please call the synod office at 507-637-3904.
Deadline: February 15th

Equipping Congregations Day
The 2019 ECD Early Registration ends February 1st.
New this year! Childcare and Kids Day Camp.

Click here for more information on registration.
2018 Archived Newsletters
Add all your new congregation council members to the synod's online newsletter. It's a great way to keep them up-to-date with synod news, events, resources, and special messages from the bishop.
We respect your privacy. Subscribers will not have their email addresses shared or redistributed in any way.

Click here for 2018 archived E-News. Some event e-mails are not listed.

Also, stay in-the-know and stay connected to the ELCA - subscribe to one or more of the ELCA's e-newsletters. Click here to view all newsletter topics. 
2019 Conference Assembly schedule
  • Crow River Conference
    February 17 - Beckville, Beckville at 2 p.m.
  • Glacial Ridge Conference
    March 3 - St. Paul's, Lowry at 2 p.m.
  • Great River Conference
    March 3 - Peace, Cold Spring at 2 p.m.
  • Lac Qui Parle Conference
    February 24 - Watson, Watson at 2 p.m.
  • Lakeland Conference
    March 10 - Vinje, Willmar at 2 p.m.
  • Minnesota Valley Conference
    TBD
  • Prairie Conference
    March 3 - Campus Religious Center at Southwest State, Marshall at 2 p.m.
  • Scenic Valley Conference
    February 17 - Gloria Dei, Redwood Falls at 2 p.m.
  • Shetek Conference
    March 3 - Salem, Jackson at 2 p.m.
  • Watonwan Conference
    February 17 - Trinity, Sleep Eye at 2 p.m.
Annual Ecumenical Worship Service
The annual Ecumenical Prayer Service for Christian Unity will take place at 3:00 on Sunday, January 20, 2019. This year the host site will be First Presbyterian Church (312 SW 6th Street) in Willmar. Leaders from the Southwestern Minnesota Synod and the Diocese of New Ulm are also planning the worship service and will participate. Christians from the various denominations represented in southwest and west-central Minnesota are invited and encouraged to attend this celebration of our common Christian faith. It is held as part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
A reception will follow.
Synod Events
Below is a list of all the upcoming synod events. Visit the synod events webpage for more information.
FEBRUARY
February 2, 2019
Trinity, Truman
Kvitseid, Milan
Kandiyohi, Kandiyohi

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

SAVE THE DATE
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