SYNOD NEWS AND EVENTS - APRIL 19, 2018
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Children and Grandchildren
+Grampa Jon (Bishop Jon)
Our family is celebrating the arrival on April 10 th of Finn Marcus Cochrane born to Laura and Greg Cochrane. This is our second grandchild. We are grateful for our whole family, our children and now have the joy of watching Finn join our first grandchild Liam as they grow up. We are grateful for the gift and responsibility of being grand-parents again.
Christ and Culture
+Bishop Jon V. Anderson
During my recent trip to see our son in Washington DC, we attended a service in the Greek Orthodox Church that preceded the beginning of the ACT2EndRacism Rally. In the two-hour service that looks and sounds very different from our evening prayer service, I had many thoughts about my life, our church body and our Christian faith.

In the service it was easy to see the beauty of how Christian faith takes on flesh in Greek culture and language. The building, the icons and the liturgy were so beautiful and different. It was also easy to see how the Christian faith can be trapped in a culture. The very thing people treasure in this church body (Greek culture and language) made it difficult to hear or engage in the liturgy as well. The lengthy service was a reminder of how that also happens as our faith takes on flesh in Midwestern culture that is familiar to us.

As I listened for two hours to beautiful and haunting chants of the liturgy and scripture readings in a language I only occasionally could understand, I was reminded of our Lutheran movement's principle to translate scripture, traditions and our faith into the language of our people, culture and time. I am glad we work on the translation, but at the same time, we have to be careful to not let our culture trap the Good News that is for all people in all places at all times. We are part of God's ongoing reformation proclaiming by what we say and do the Good News that Christ is risen. Alleluia.

Act2EndRacism
+Bishop Jon V. Anderson
"...Many people don't want to talk about racism....We have to see racism to end racism. We have to name it."

One of the struggles of our culture is our racism. The Act2End Racism Rally helped me go deeper in my own work around racism. It challenged me to reflect, imagine and act into a better future. I have been working on this issue of racism inside me over the last two years.

I was thankful to attend this rally which marked the 50th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther King was assassinated. The most powerful part for me was the silent march from the Martin Luther King Monument to the Washington monument. I kept praying and pondering what am I called to do personally and as a pastor to fight racism in me and in us.

The event was built around this acronym,  ACT .
Awaken and become aware of racism in its many forms.
Confront racism in myself, our church body and God's world.
Be  transform ed and part of God's transforming work.

 
This web site shares about the rally and about work the National Council of Churches will be doing in the future: rally2endracism.org/next/.
If you want to hear some of the speakers you can at this Facebook link: 
www.facebook.com/ACT2EndRacism/Go down the page and eventually you will find longer live video recordings. 
"The enemy is cynicism and despair. Act2EndRacism now. Name, repent and repair...Eventually we can receive the gift of reconciliation. Awaken, confront, transform. Let's finish the work."

ELCA presiding bishop issues pastoral statement on humanitarian situation in Syria
4/14/2018 2:10:00 PM / ELCA NEWS

+ The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton,
Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

"Give God no rest" (Isaiah 62:6-7) until that day when "the wolf and the lamb shall feed together. ... They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord" (Isaiah 65:25) (ELCA social statement, "For Peace in God's World").

In recent days we have witnessed, with additional horror, further atrocities in Syria in a conflict that has taken almost countless lives over the past seven years and displaced millions of Syrians and others.

Following the April 13 air strikes conducted by the armed forces of the United States, the United Kingdom and France, the president and the general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation issued a statement that I encourage ELCA members to read and prayerfully consider.

Our church is responding to the needs of Syrian refugees and displaced people through the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), in coordination with ACT Alliance (formerly Action by Churches Together). The IOCC has been assisting those in need in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan to ensure food security, establish shelter, and provide better access to water and sanitation facilities, among other activities. LWF-Jordan is working with Syrian refugees and host communities in Amman, Mafraq, Irbid and in the Zaatari refugee camp, bolstering livelihoods through cash transfers and skills training in agriculture practices and improved technologies for vegetable production in home gardens to benefit malnourished children, pregnant and lactating women, and sick people. They are also providing psychosocial support, particularly among women. We plan to continue and intensify this work.

In the face of this ongoing humanitarian crisis, our nation also needs to open its arms again to receive Syrian refugees for resettlement in the United States. We will continue to work in ecumenical partnership as we pray, advocate and work to receive refugees.

Last, but not least, our government, as part of the international community, needs to redouble its efforts to work diligently for a diplomatic resolution of this conflict. As U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said earlier this weekend, "There is no military solution to the crisis. The solution must be political."
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Click here to read the full Statement by the Lutheran World Federation President and General Secretary of escalation of military conflict in Syria. 
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Click here to donate now. 
Your gift will deliver essential supplies into the hands of people who desperately need them. Please keep the people of Eastern Ghouta in your prayers. And please give as generously as you can to help them.
Lutheran World Relief
First Call Retreat
+Bishop Jon V. Anderson 
One of the ways your synod works together is to support people serving in their first three years of being a pastor. Pr. Linda Lagergren and Synod Minister Kathryn Skoglund led this retreat a couple of weeks ago.

They were joined by other experienced pastors who came to walk together with our gifted and growing pastors in their opening call. The focus was on deepening pastoral care wisdom. Thank You, Pr. Don McKee, Pr. Art Wiese, Pr. Joyce Capp and Pr. Gene Alms.

I am thankful for the ways God has been blessing us through these young new pastors. I am thankful for the people who surround and support our young pastors in text studies, congregations and our conferences. Seminary does great work at beginning the journey and pastors are called to be lifelong learners.

Young pastors know they have much to learn and share. I was honored to be there and witness this work happening. I wish you all could have been at Shetek Lutheran Ministries to witness God's work through your synod. 
Retirement Challenge Grant Extended
Don't put it off any longer! The Retirement Challenge Grant is extended to May 31, 2018.  "The most pervasive issue for clergy across our nation is adequate retirement savings and planning." That's one of the conclusions researchers pulled from the applications to the current Lilly Endowment initiative that we call the Lilly Project. For a second year, Portico is incentivizing pastors to look over their retirement funds by offering wellness dollars. The Ministerial Excellence Fund is also offering incentives for pastors to increase their retirement savings by offering free money!

The Retirement Challenge Grant will reimburse you up to $30/month for any personal contribution you make to your retirement funds. If the Portico Retirement Planning Tool recommended that you save more for retirement, this is a painless way to get started. This grant is available to all pastors under call in the SW MN Synod.

You can set up the payments through the myPortico website. You can fill out the Retirement Challenge Grant application online by clicking here to receive the reimbursement. Do it soon! The application for this grant expires May 31, 2018.

If you have questions, please call the Lilly Director, Pastor Andrew Hermodson-Olsen, 320-328-5533.
"I'm a Lutheran" Column
Do you know an ELCA member who has a unique story to tell? We're looking for nominations for Living Lutheran's monthly "I'm a Lutheran" feature. Past features have included people with interesting vocations, impressive accomplishments or exciting experiences. We're looking for people who are passionately living and showing their faith in their everyday life and are comfortable talking about it. Send the name and contact information for your nominee, as well as a little bit about why you think they'd be a great candidate, to megan.brandsrud@elca.org.
Synod Assembly Reports
Each week we will be posting a report from PRE-Assembly information. These annual reports are from our synod boards/committees/teams, shared ministries, and mission partners. Click here to view all the reports we have posted, the list will continue to grow as reports come in. Reading these reports help us stay connected in the mission we share.
Portico Benefit Services Assembly Report
+Rev. Jeffrey D. Thiemann, President and CEO
We are church together.
This call from ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton is at the core of Portico's identity: We serve those who serve the church, so they can serve others. Ecclesiastes 4:12 reads, "a three-fold cord is not easily broken." Imagine, then, the resilience that comes from a community more than 50,000 strong that includes:
  • Active and retired rostered ministers, lay employees, and family members
  • Congregations, synodical and churchwide ministries, and social ministry organizations
  • The dedicated and talented staff at Portico Benefit Services
Together, we pool our resources and carefully steward our gifts, leveraging our collective strength to provide the care our members need. Together, we walk the path toward financial, emotional, and physical well-being, so all might experience God's abundant life. Together, we are church. Click here to read Portico's full report.
Synod Events
Below is a list of all the upcoming synod events. Visit the synod events webpage for more information.
APRIL
ACEs: What Ministers Need to Know
April 24, 2018
SW MN Synod Office, Redwood Falls, MN

MAY
Exploring Natural Systems: Dancing Together  (formerly the PSST Retreat)
May 3-4, 2018
St. Andrew Village, New London 

JUNE
June 8-9, 2018
Redwood Falls, MN 

SW MN Synod
Women of the ELCA Convention
June 29-30, 2018
Bethlehem Lutheran Church, St. Cloud

SAVE THE DATE
2018 Fall Theological Conference 
October 7-9, 2018
Alexandria, MN
Other Upcoming Events and Resources 
  • I am: Empowering Women in Ministry Event
    Friday, April 27, 8:30-5:00 p.m.
    Chapel of the Incarnation, Olson Campus Center
    1490 Fulham St., Saint Paul, MN 5510
    $25 per person (includes lunch)
    Women in ministry face unique challenges--both theologically and culturally. Join us for I am: Empowering Women in Ministry, a one-day event featuring a diverse line-up of pastors, scholars, and activists who will reflect on issues that impact women serving in ministry.
    Open to the public. Click here for more information. 

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