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Synod Assembly Report form Rev. Larry Strenge,
Director for Evangelical Mission
One of my favorite stories from this past year came on a cold January morning in Redwood Falls. Shortly after 7 a.m. I left the house where I stay in Redwood Falls when away from our home near Sartell. Leaving the house on the very south side of town, with temperatures finally above zero after a LONG stretch of sub-zero days, I headed out to pray and to get some physical exercise. My daily prayer practice includes the joy of the "dawn prayer," a prayer in which I enter into the ancient prayer of another, Zechariah. Zechariah, as he held his eight-day-old son, John, in his arms, felt the Spirit flow through him and his prayer begins, "Blessed be the Lord," recounting nine ancient promises God has made. It is a fine start to each day as it reminds us of our own calling, "that we might serve You (God) without fear in holiness and righteousness all of our days." God's grace lived out. It's the "dawn prayer" because it concludes with, "by the tender mercy of our God the dawn from on high is breaking upon us, to give light to those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of Peace (Shalom)." 

Daily I look forward to those promises, this recounting of grace, as the "dawn from on high" breaks in.

This morning was extra special. The sunrise was coming soon. I ran to a spot on a gravel road about a half mile away and took out my phone camera. For a better picture I stepped carefully across the ditch, full of snow, to capture this stunning sunrise.

While standing there praying and staring off at this sunrise, I heard the sound of a truck coming to a halt on the road behind me. When I turned a man had his window down. He called out, "Are you all right?" (A man standing in a blaze yellow jacket on the edge of a field in single-digit temps. Well, I get his point!) "Absolutely!" I said enthusiastically. Then I added, "How can I not be? Look at that!" With those words I swept my left arm across the field and pointed at the sunrise. The man kept moving his head back and forth, looking for something out in the field, before he said, "Look at what?" I said, "That! The sunrise!" He raised his eyes from the field, glanced, and said in a lackluster voice, "Ohhh....ok." And then, he started to drive away. I was grateful that I could at least say before his window was up, "Thanks for caring!" He nodded approval and drove away. I stood there smiling as the dust rose behind him.

As he drove away, I turned back to the sunrise and something else occurred to me, "How often have I done that? How often have I missed the beauty of what God is doing right there in front of me?" And I laughed at my own lack of observation, took a final glance, and headed on to the day that beckoned.

How often do we miss what God is doing in our midst? How often, in the midst of harried lives, do we miss God's beauty in our lives - personal, family, congregation, synod, churchwide, world? Click here to read more. 

Synod Assembly Reports 
Each week we will be posting a report from PRE-Assembly information. These annual reports are from our staff, 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. 
Ordination of Matthew Danielson
The ordination of Matthew Danielson is this Saturday, May 19 at Bergen Evangelical Lutheran Church, Granite Falls area, MN at 1:00 p.m. We extend our congratulations and pray God's blessings upon Matthew, who has been serving as TEEM candidate and is called to serve Our Saviour's, Baxter and Saron, Montevideo.
You are invited to attend.
Future Directions
Propelled by a commitment to Lutheran traditions and to being a community of faith that is always forming and being renewed, the ELCA's presiding bishop, Church Council and Conference of Bishops initiated a process to engage the ELCA in conversation about future directions - to help this church journey faithfully and effectively together in the years ahead.

Our values are grounded in faith, in our biblical and Lutheran confessional sources and our love of God and neighbor. They speak to the way this church lives and practices our faith, and they will guide how we journey forward in Christ as church together.
  • ELCA Leadership
  • Vital congregations
Telling the story of the church we are becoming: confident about who we are in Christ and what God is calling us to do.
  • Goal 1 - A thriving church spreading the gospel and deepening faith for all people.
  • Goal 2 - A church equipping people for their baptismal vocations in the world and this church.
  • Goal 3 - An inviting and welcoming church that reflects and embraces the diversity of our communities and the gifts and opportunities that diversity brings.
  • Goal 4 - A visible church deeply committed to working ecumenically and with other people of faith for justice, peace and reconciliation in communities and around the world.
  • Goal 5 - A well-governed, connected and sustainable church.
Each goal has priority action areas, click here to learn more.
+Anne Hilding
The mission of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod, ELCA is "God places us in cities, farms and towns together under one prairie sky. The Risen Christ surprises us with opportunities to plant God's word in the world." The synod and its congregations do live by this mission statement and it's shown through many good works.

Through the Embrace God's Mission + Equip God's People Funding initiative, the synod is able to offer "Equip Grants" to bring the synod and its churches together in new ways and pursue the main goal of embracing God's mission and equipping God's people.

Here is a story about how the TIM Team Equip Grant had a positive impact on one of our congregations:
In May 2017 First Lutheran Church in St. James received the Equip Grant from the synod to send eight of their youth to the Teens in Mission (TIM) Program at Green Lake Bible Camp in Spicer. Erin Kuehl, the youth director at First Lutheran, applied for the Equip Grant because she felt the TIM Program could really benefit the high schoolers in her youth group. She thought the teens could learn about how to be leaders in ministry and their community.

First Lutheran sent eight 9th-12th graders to the TIM Program. The kids really took to the counselors who were leading them. They learned some great leadership skills, learned about how to talk openly about their faith, and received training for connecting their church to their community by doing service projects.

Erin felt that it was so remarkable that the synod promoted the Equip Grant so that the teens could have the opportunity to attend the TIM Program. The program gave the youth helpful training in becoming a counselor, and some of her youth group talked about how, when they graduated from high school, they'd like to go on to be a counselor at a Bible camp. The TIM program showed the youth the possibilities ministry has to offer, whether it's becoming a pastor or youth director one day or volunteering in the church. Erin expressed appreciation for the staff of Green Lake, who did an outstanding job of teaching individual leadership skills and how to write a covenant.

TIM Team 2018 Dates: June 10-15, June 17-22, June 24-29, July 15-20, July 22-27, July 29-August 3.
Click here for more information about TIM Team; see the M.O.B. registration.

Our synod's Embrace God's Mission + Equip God's People Funding Initiative is changing the lives of people as the Spirit equips us to serve in God's world.
To learn more about the Funding Initiative and
how you can make a difference click here.
Assembly Reminders!
  • Last day for early bird registration ends May 18, 2018. After May 18, the price goes up $50 per person. Click here to register!
  • Assembly Displays Requests are still open. The RACC offers more space for displays. This is a great opportunity for vendors  who share and support our work of the church. Click here to register your display.
  • New this year! Workshops and Service Projects are open to the community! Therefore, if you invite others to attend, please sign-up online by clicking here. This is to give us a general idea how many people may be attending each workshop.
  • Check out the Synod Assembly Webpage for the schedule, reports and hotel information.
Job Openings
  • Mayo Clinic Health Systems is seeking a PT chaplain to serve the Springfield hospital - 2 hours/day M-W-F.  For more information contact Ch. Gary Creech at 507-327-3379.
  • Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter is seeking a director of campus ministries in the Chaplains' Office. Click here for more information.
  • ELCA Advocacy in Washington, D.C., is seeking Program Director for Advocacy Engagement. The position is heavily focused on communication, and we invite you to circulate it in your networks as you're able. Do you know of someone who might be a good fit? They can learn more and apply by clicking here
Synod Events
Below is a list of all the upcoming synod events. Visit the synod events webpage for more information.
Exploring Natural Systems: Dancing Together  (formerly the PSST Retreat)
May 3-4, 2018
St. Andrew Village, New London 

June 8-9, 2018
Redwood Falls, MN 

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

2018 Fall Theological Conference 
October 7-9, 2018
Alexandria, MN

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